Leben mit Herman Melville

Lady Liberty Enlightening the World Since 121 Years

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Update to New York 1660 and The New York Rant:

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi's Design PatentThe pedestal block supporting the Statue of Liberty has been financed by the people of New York. Only the statue was a gift from France, as a recognition for the friendly relations between France and young America. However, the latter was left alone with the problem where (and whether) to erect the bounty from the large heart of the freedom-loving country overseas. — French.

French again: Liberty is pictured as a beautiful lady. Architect and sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi had designed her face after his strong-minded, dominant mother, and her body after his girlfriend — down to her Morton’s toe. Her skeleton was built by Gustave Eiffel, as a warm-up for his second Wonder of the World.

The wealthy elite of New York failed to finance a pedestal contruction, the less wealthy salt of the New York earth relied upon the upper class to provide the funds. The construction of the statue was finished in 1884, but no pedestal found.

A Hungarian immigrant named Joseph Pulitzer (right, that one with the Pulitzer Prize) felt the importance of everything the statue symbolized, and started in his time as a journalist for The World a fundraising campaign for a pedestal. From 1883, when he opened up the editorial pages of his newspaper with that call, it took another three years until the poorest people of New York had rounded up the entire amount.

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus Bronze PlateWe may in fact imagine butchers, steelworkers, and shoeshine boys dedicating their off-Sunday to a walk to the World publishing house to donate a few cents for Lady Liberty. New York star architect Richard Morris Hunt agreed to make the drafts.

Thus the Statue of Liberty has become a genuine monument for the common people, resting on a pedestal which was literally carried together cent by cent.

Moreover, the pedestal block supporting the Statue of Liberty has been a bed for a sonnet by yet another lady, Emma Lazarus, on a bronze plaque: The New Colossus, written in 1883, engraved not before 1903.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

At the unveiling of Lady Liberty Enlightening the World on 28th of October 1886, only the rich elite of New York had been invited, who had refused to compensate for the statue before, to hear US President Grover Cleveland thank France for their noble gesture.

The firecracks from men-of-war in New York harbour to salute President Cleveland befogged the Statue of Liberty in smoke.

German Herman Melville biographer Daniel Göske states in Ein Leben (A Life) there is no sign that Herman Melville attended the ceremonies, although or because he should have been working nearby in the customs office; it was a Thursday. For two weeks later, presidential elections were scheduled.

Übersetzung (dies ist ein teutsches Weblog): Die Freiheitsstatue wurde am Donnerstag, den 28. Oktober 1886 enthüllt, nachdem Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi nach Franzosenart seiner Freundin die Zehen nachmodelliert und unter Gustave Eiffels Beihilfe auf wahnwitzige Größe hinaufkonstruiert hatte. Diese Perversion schenkte er dem kat’exochenen Amerika als Geste der Freundschaft, um sie als Symbol von etwas, dem kein Volk der Welt widersprechen konnte, dort aufzubauen, wo man sie als erstes sieht, aber die rochen was und wollten keinen Sockel spendieren. Das schafften erst die kleinen Arbeiter, die auf eine Werbekampagne seitens des ungarischen Zeitungsschwengels und späterhinigen Literaturpreisstifters Joseph Pulitzer hin drei Jahre lang ihre letzten Kröten für einen Sockel zusammenopferten, auf dem die überzüchtete Megäre ihre grünspanigen Hammerzehen abwetzen konnte. 1903 bauten sie ihr auch noch ein Sonett hinein. Herman Melville konnte gar nicht hinsehen, auch weil die Salutschüsse für den festredenden Präsidenten Cleveland den New Yorker Hafen einschließlich Bedloe’s Island in Rauch hüllten.

Und jetzt im Ernst: Herman Melville hatte als Zollinspektor 1883 womöglich die Bauteile der Freiheitsstatue noch begutachtet, nach seiner Quittierung gibt es keine Anzeichen mehr, dass er sich noch einmal im Hafen herumgetrieben hätte, und war am Tag der Enthüllung eher mit dem Schreiben seines Testaments beschäftigt. Aber wenn es irgendwo auf der Welt ein Denkmal vom Volk fürs Volk gibt, dann die Freiheitsstatue, und das findet Moby-Dick™ dann wieder richtig gut.

Besuchet auch The True Story of the Statue of Liberty im Neatorama.

Images: Frédéric Aguste Bartholdi’s Design Patent;
Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus Bronze Plate: Public Domain.

Written by Wolf

28. October 2007 at 12:01 am

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