Email this review


Famous Last Words is a collection of death-bed utterances, complied by Barnaby Conrad and Thomas Kelley. It's alphabetically arranged and covers everybody from and Aristotic to and Roosevelt. It's also filed with wise or witty, and or scatterbrained, plucky or poltroonish quotes and gasps. Inevitably some will quarrel with omissions or inclusions but most will agree that the idea is a novel one, the assemblage exhaustive and most of the 'performances' appealing. Certainly anyone interested in a treasury pinpointing the farewells of Virginia Woolf, Maya-kovsky and of a Danton, Mata Hari and Marie Antoinette, the macabre humor of Frans Joseph, the mystical of St. John of the Cross and Dostoevsky, and the strangled simplicity of Hart Crane (""Good-bye everybody!"") as he jumped overboard into the sea, should find Famous Last Words a delight and a revelation. Like humanity itself it runs the but though not a few met the darkness peevishly, most took their with grace and courage and fitting bon mots and beau gestes. We imagine it will intrigue and interest many of the living and remain an indispensable reference to an indispensable subject.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1961
Publisher: Doubleday