by wjw on November 4, 2014

SeaLife DC1400Our last day in France, so perhaps it’s appropriate we visit a cemetery.  (Or maybe we’re celebrating Day of the Dead a little late this year.)

This is the rather odd cenotaph of Charles Baudelaire, whose actual grave is elsewhere in the Montparnasse cemetery.  He’s got two effigies: squatting all scowly up top, and wrapped up like a mummy down below, and in the middle there’s this dog, or maybe an insect, with its head just below Beaudelaire’s elbows— it’s so eroded it’s hard to tell what it was originally.

Elsewhere in Montparnasse, I found Eugene Ionesco, Sartre and de Beauvoir (in the same grave), Alfred Dreyfus, Jean Seberg, and a great many people less famous, or at any rate less famous to the 21st century casual observer.  One person wanted to be buried beneath a bronze fish, another in a castle, another in a pyramid, and a great many in spooky gothic crypts.

I did not see Jim Morrison, who is buried with Oscar Wilde in Pere Lachaise, in another part of the city.  Actually he won’t be buried there for long, because rent on his grave is about to expire, and he’ll be moved, presumably to be replaced by someone less likely to bring junkies into the cemetery.

We are about to have a final meal, then pack and otherwise prepare for the journey home tomorrow.

Visiting Montparnasse set me to thinking how I’d want to be buried, assuming of course that I do.  What’s going to be on your tombstone?

Phil Koop November 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm

I’m surprised you didn’t make time for Beckett. Or did you? Surely he’s not “less famous”, even to the 21st-century observer?

Did you take in the view from the top of the Tour Montparnasse? Like they say, it’s the best view in the city – in part because it’s one place from which you definitely can’t see the Tour Montparnasse …

Bruce Arthurs November 6, 2014 at 9:33 am

Here’s a link to a 1902 photo of Baudelaire’s grave, with much less wear and tear on the statuary. The dog/insect/wtf? you mentioned appears to be a skeleton, though there’s still something very weird about the skull.

(Image from New York Public Library’s Digital Gallery, which is a treasure trove for anyone looking for images. Several million of them, many in public domain.)

wjw November 11, 2014 at 6:59 am

If I missed Beckett, it was because the weather was deteriorating. Freezing rain was coming down, and it was time to go back to the hotel and warm up.

Bruce, thanks for the link. Now that we know the missing bit is a winged skeleton, we’ve got dead Baudelaire on the bottom, with Death bearing the spirit up to Parnassus above, from which he views the world with apparent concern. Or so I choose to read it right now.

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