10 Bizarre Literary Landmarks Everyone Should Visit


Everyone knows about the Important Literary Places, and authors’ graves and childhood homes abound in guidebooks and popular knowledge. But what about the slightly weirder literary landmarks? They’re worth a visit, too, and perhaps even more so — after all, at least one of them can cure your illness if you give it a good rub. From road signs to impossibly smug sculptures, find ten bizarre literary landmarks worth a visit after the jump — and add your own favorites to the list in the comments.

This amazing road sign popped up near Moscow’s Patriarch Ponds sometime last year. It is, obviously, prohibiting Professor Woland, Koroviev, and Behemoth, the devilish trio from Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita from the area. The sign underneath warns, “Do not talk with strangers.” [via]

This vaguely horrifying sculpture of Branwell Brontë was carved out of a dead tree, and lives now near Sowerby Bridge in Calderdale, Great Britain. The figure carries a tankard of ale in one hand and a bible in the other. “Oh, whatever,” you might think, “it’s only Branwell.” But rest assured, the statues of his more famous sisters are no less terrifying. [via]

That there is an enormous Mr. Darcy standing in the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park. This is technically an ode to a sexy, thin-shirted scene in the BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth, a scene that doesn’t appear in Jane Austen’s novel, but still. Giant Mr. Darcy. [via]

You’ve probably seen this one before, but let’s not forget the complete weirdness (and yet complete perfection) of Jaroslav Róna’s bronze statue of Franz Kafka in Prague. It’s not just that it’s a headless suit carrying the writer on its shoulders — it’s that gaping neck hole. [via]

Now, this one you might not be able to visit, but it’s still worth mentioning for its relative insanity: someone has turned the whole of the United States into a digital landmark dedicated to Ayn Rand. Nick Newcomen drove 12,328 miles across 30 states, using his GPS as a “pen” and uploading his progress to Google Earth. He says he undertook the project because “‘Read Ayn Rand’ deserves to be the world’s biggest message.” It might actually now be the biggest message, if not the brightest one. [via]

Photo Credit: Oleksiy Boyko

If you find yourself in Kyiv, you shouldn’t miss paying a visit to Gogol’s nose, which hangs on Building 34 on Andriyivsky Uzviz and was sculpted in 2006 by Oleh Derhatchov as a tribute to the author and to one of his greatest stories. Legend has it that touching the nose can cure you of the common cold, or any other mild sinus-related woes. [via]

If you’re after a bigger landmark, visit Istanbul’s Museum of Innocence, the museum that Orhan Pamuk conceived of and built in conjunction with his novel of the same name. It showcases important items from the book, and becomes “both the museum of a fiction, and a little museum of ‘Istanbul life in the second half of the 20th century.” [via]

Gatsby had the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg, but Jonathan Lethem and David Foster Wallace had the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign, which spins above the Sunset Foot Clinic on West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. There are two sides: the Happy Foot side, which features a celebrating foot with its thumbs (yes) up, and the Sad Foot side, which shows a gaping mouth filled with pain. A local superstition holds that whichever sign you see first is a portent of the kind of day you’re about to have. [via]

Now that Oscar Wilde’s grave has been cleared of all its kisses and protected behind a plastic partition, the most bizarre Wilde landmark is this insane sculpture of him in Dublin’s Merrion Square. Just look at the man’s face! And his clothes have color, but not his skin or hair? And that lurid sprawl… [via]

It exists. [via]