Terry Breverton at Guardian selects some of literature’s most memorable farewells, from Samuel Johnson to James Joyce. Here are a few:
‘Does nobody understand?’
Joyce died in Zurich, two days after surgery for a perforated ulcer. The Irish government declined his wife’s offer to repatriate his remains. According to Richard Ellmann, a Catholic priest tried to convince his widow that there should be a funeral mass. She replied: ‘I couldn’t do that to him’
LEO TOLSTOY 1828 – 1910
‘We all reveal … our manifestations … This manifestation is over … That’s all’
Tolstoy left his estate, aged 82, to begin a new life as a peasant. Reaching the small town of Astapovo he contracted pneumonia, and died a few days later in the stationmaster’s house. According to the stationmaster, his last words were: ‘But the peasants … how do the peasants die?’ His friend Vladimir Chertkov preferred to remember something from the night before. ‘He was lying on his back, breathing heavily … all of a sudden – as if arguing with himself – broke out in a loud voice: “We all reveal … our manifestations … This manifestation is over … That’s all”.’
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