Literary Tattoos

by Liz Colville

Tattoo tributes to favorite authors are on the rise, according to the authors of a new book called The World Made Flesh, which is a compilation of interesting literary tattoos from around the world. A couple from New South Wales, Australia, for instance, has matching tattoos of the title of David Foster Wallace’s Kenyon commencement address: “This is water.”

The authors say many of the book’s contributors “seem to have gotten their tattoos to commemorate high or low points in their lives. Marriages, divorces, graduations, failures to commit suicide, diseases that didn’t quite kill them…” One Brooklyn guy’s back is literally a page of a book: the complete text of Theodor Adorno’s “To Marcel Proust,” and appropriately, the back belongs to a professor. Co-author Justin Taylor tells the Daily Beast he was worried that the submissions they got would be “nothing but dudes with their Bukowski tattoos.” To their delight, they got very frank, and sometimes NSFW, self-portraits displaying tattoos from all over people’s bodies, including the last line of James Joyce’s Ulysses scripted across a woman’s chest, just below her collarbone. Here’s a big slide show.

Photo of, yes, a Bukowski tattoo via the literary tattoo blog Contrariwise