It’s Halloween! In honor of the creepiest of holidays, why not contemplate your own mortality? GOOD TIMES!
Here are ten well-written or interesting conceived final goodbyes from folks (or folks who knew them) who have shuffled off this mortal coil.
1. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
[Gravestone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon]
GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTE BE Y MAN Y SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE THAT MOVES MY BONES
2. Edmund Spenser (1510-1596)
(expecting the second Comminge of our Saviour Christ Jesus)
the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his time;
whose divine spirit needs no other witness
than the works he left behind him.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was very ill in 1936 and was recovering at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina with the help of a private nurse. In addition to his failing health, the author was struggling with the decision to commit his wife, Zelda, to a mental institution at a nearby hospital. His essay about his own decline, The Crack-Up, had just been published in Esquire. Here, Fitzgerald voices an incredibly sad awareness of his own decline: “[M]y life had been a drawing on resources that I did not possess, that I had been mortgaging myself physically and spiritually up to the hilt,” he wrote.
It didn’t seem that anything could go right that year. Fitzgerald’s drinking had become increasingly problematic and he had significant money problems. That summer, he “fractured his shoulder while diving into the hotel swimming pool, and sometime later, according to Michael Cody at the University of South Carolina’s Fitzgerald Web site, “he fired a revolver in a suicide threat, after which the hotel refused to let him stay without a nurse.” (Source)
Eventually, the hotel relented and allowed Fitzgerald to have an attendant, a woman named Dorothy Richardson, who, in addition to tending to his physical needs, had the unenviable task of keeping the writer from drinking too much.
The two developed a friendship during his convalescence. At one point, apparently Dorothy asked what she should read. Here is the list Fitzgerald gave her, written in her own hand as he reeled off the titles and author’s names:
Here is a more legible list.
- Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser
- The Life of Jesus, by Ernest Renan
- A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen
- Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson
- The Old Wives’ Tale, by Arnold Bennett
- The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiel Hammett
- The Red and the Black, by Stendahl
- The Short Stories of Guy De Maupassant, translated by Michael Monahan
- An Outline of Abnormal Psychology, edited by Gardner Murphy
- The Stories of Anton Chekhov, edited by Robert N. Linscott
- The Best American Humorous Short Stories, edited by Alexander Jessup
- Victory, by Joseph Conrad
- The Revolt of the Angels, by Anatole France
- The Plays of Oscar Wilde
- Sanctuary, by William Faulkner
- Within a Budding Grove, by Marcel Proust
- The Guermantes Way, by Marcel Proust
- Swann’s Way, by Marcel Proust
- South Wind, by Norman Douglas
- The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield
- War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
- John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley: Complete Poetical Works