Each time I go to Boston, I plan to go to the Anderson Bridge across the Charles Rive. A small plaque at the bridge's eastern gate commemorates the spot where William Faulkner's Quentin Compson committed suicide by jumping into the river on June 2, 1910. But circumstances always prevent me from paying homage to Quentin, the prototype of the sensitve young male scion of the doomed Southern aristocracy. See Walker Percy for further illumination.
Quentin's tragic plunge into the river is the subject of a section of Faulkner's first great novel, "The Sound and the Fury," published in 1928. The young Mississippian also narrates Faulkner's "Absalom! Absalom!," seeking to explain to his Harvard roommate the complexities of Southern history and society.
The Anderson Bridge's memorial says:
Drowned in the odour
One morning after walking across the Harvard Bridge from Boston's Back Bay into Cambridge, I thought I'd spied the Anderson Bridge and headed toward it. Then I realized my destination was really the Longfellow Bridge, not to mix literary allusions. I headed back upriver, but didn't see the Anderson Bridge anywhere close by. Not smelling the odor of honeysuckle in the humid air, I gave up my journey to find the Quentin plaque and returned to Back Bay for a well-deserved repast.
A couple of days later as we were leaving Boston, I at last found the Anderson Bridge. We took a bus to Logan Airport, and from the bus window I saw in the distance the the old stone bridge, which crossed a bend in the river a bit farther away from where I'd originally expected to find it. The bridge went from Boston to another part of the Harvard campus, and as we headed toward the airport, I watched it disappear as we entered a tunnel.
I'd read that a Harvard literary professor who teaches Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" asks students in his classses to find the small plaque on the Anderson bridge. Although I wouldn't have received extra credit in the good prof's class, I at least now know where the bridge is so that I can go there on my next trip to Boston. After trips to Faulkner's Rowan Oak in Oxford, Miss., that'll nearly complete my Faulkner pilgrimages, although I also want to go to the hotel where he lived while working as a Hollyood screenwriter.
On the way to Logan, we also passed Boston U, where Robert Lowell taught his legendary class whose students included Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, also famed literary suicides, in their cases real ones. From the bus window, I saw another Boston site I wanted to see - the Boston University stadium, where part of the old Boston Braves stadium grandstand is preserved. The old Braves, before heading to Milwaukee and then Atlanta, contributed to baseball lore a bit of doggerel from one of their few successful seasons, the 1948 pennant run - "Spahn and Sain, then pray for rain."
Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain, men who returned from World War II to pitch in the majors. As Spahn observed, after fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, he didn't find the World Series pressure so tough.