Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bitchy Obituaries... Really Bitchy!

Since I write about murder mysteries and unfortunate deaths, a quick look at some obituaries seems like a good idea.  These obits are anything but warm and fuzzy, though. 

H.L. Mencken on William Jennings Bryan (Scopes Monkey Trial) "To Expose a Fool"
They say it's not nice to speak ill of the dead, but that didn't stop Mencken from saying:

"His last days were spent in a one-horse Tennessee village.  The man felt at home in such scenes. He liked people who sweated freely, and were not debauched by the refinements of the toilet.... He was, in fact, a charlatan, a mountebank, a zany without any shame or dignity."

Hunter S. Thompson clearly didn't shed any tears over the death of Richard Nixon "He was a Crook".  Thompson comments on the bonds of hatred:

"Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together.... If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president."

Rufus Wilmot Griswold on Edgar Allan Poe "The Ludwig Article"
It makes sense to finish off this posting with the obituary of the father of mystery fiction.

"Edgar Allan Poe is dead. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it... Irascible, envious--bad enough, but not the worst, for these salient angles were all varnished over with a cold, repellant cynicism, his passions vented themselves in sneers. There seemed to him no moral susceptibility; and, what was more remarkable in a proud nature, little or nothing of the true point of honor."

Ouch.  R.I.P.


  1. One of my favorite obituary remarks is also among the briefest. When a certain gentleman of his acquaintance passed on, Ambrose Bierce suggested his tombstone read: "Here lies Frank Pixley--as usual."

  2. I love Bierce! See archives here for some earlier posts re: Bierce/Devil's Dictionary.