I’ll leave that for you to decide. But one thing’s certain: famous last words are quite entertaining.
This cute little book by Ray Robinson (which, by the way, would make a fantastic gift– stocking stuffer!) compiles the dying words of everyone from Pablo Picasso to D.H. Lawrence to Thomas Edison into one volume. The words are often funny or poignant, but they occasionally can be heart-rending. D.H. Lawrence, dying of tuberculosis, called out to his friend, “Maria, don’t let me die!” Noel Coward said simply, “Goodnight, my darlings. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodnight, my darlings. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Each quote is accompanied by a short anecdote of the famous person’s death. While I was aware of the circumstances of many of these mortal ends, the stories often proved surprising and enlightening. Alexander Hamilton, who lay dying after losing a duel with Aaron Burr, stated, “This is a mortal wound. Take care of that pistol. It is undischarged and still cocked. It might go off and do harm. I did not intend to fire at him.”
And of course, there are those who just wanted to get one more laugh. John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist, deadpanned, “I wish I had drunk more champagne.”
“I wish I had drunk more champagne.”
Robinson has turned what he admits is a “morbid pastime” into a lovely, entertaining little book. The hard cover, with its turn-of-the-century typographic design and deep brown spine, is aesthetically pleasing and fits perfectly in your hand. You can almost picture someone carrying it around in their breastpocket, taking it out from time to time for inspiration or to provide much-needed wisdom and perspective to a situation.