How to Die Poetically

December 3, 2019 Roland Barthes Robert Walser Clarice Lispector Kazimir Malevich Gavrilo Princip Porfirio Rubirosa Xavier Mertz Paul von Hindenburg

I keep running into surprisingly heart-wrenching but poetic stories about the death of famous people. It all started with a sentence I read on a publisher’s page about the author Robert Walser, a sentence that left me speechless for a moment.

Robert Walser starb am Weihnachtstag 1956 auf einem einsamen Spaziergang im Schnee.

There’s something both crushing and irresistible about the the end of an (influential) person’s life, and I’ve since amassed a little collection about such one-sentence death records.

Roland Barthes, Philosopher:

Ironically, shortly after completing ’Camera Lucida,’’ he was run over and killed on a Paris street, abruptly meeting the death he foresaw.

Clarice Lispector, Writer:

Clarice Lispector died, again, almost eleven years after the fire that had changed her life, and her art, forever.

Kazimir Malevich, Artist:

Kazimir Malevich’s ashes were buried, as he had requested, in the countryside near the dacha where he had formulated the Suprematist doctrine.

Gavrilo Princip, assassin of Franz Ferdinand:

In Princips Zelle fand man nach seinem Tod folgende Zeilen, die er mit dem Stiel eines Löffels in die Wand geritzt hatte: Unsere Geister schleichen durch Wien und raunen durch die Paläste und lassen die Herren erzittern“.

Porfirio Rubirosa, the original playboy:

Rubirosa died in the early morning of July 5, 1965, at the age of 56, when he crashed his silver Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet into a horse chestnut tree in the Bois de Boulogne after an all-night celebration at the Paris nightclub Jimmy’s” in honor of winning the polo Coupe de France.

Xavier Mertz, Antarctic Explorer:

Mertz, the vegetarian, suffered more from the starvation diet, alternating between lethargy and fits of rage until he at last fell into a coma and died.

Paul von Hindenburg, German President who named Hitler as chancellor:

Erst zwanzig Stunden vor dem Ableben fiel er in Bewusstseinstrübungen, erkannte jedoch Hitler, als dieser den Sterbenden am Nachmittag des 1. August erneut aufsuchte.

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