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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bone to Pick

Beckett fact no. 50.

‘Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards…’

Ten Beckett graveyards.

1) ‘I visited, not so long ago, my father’s grave…’ (First Love). ‘Way out in the wilds of the country on the side of a hill, and too small, far too small […] a few more widows and they’d be turning them away.’ It can only be the Protestant cemetery in Redford, Co. Wicklow, on the left as you go up the hill to Greystones.
2) Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg, which the narrator of First Love greatly prefers to the above, ‘particularly the Linne section’. ‘A lion, if I remember right, is carved on [Hagenbeck’s] monument, death must have had for Hagenbeck the countenance of a lion.’
3) In Malone meurt (but not Malone Dies) we find this little verse of Macmann’s in praise of Glasnevin cemetery on Dublin’s northside:

C’est l’amour qui nous conduit
La main dans la main vers Glasnevin
C’est le meilleur du chemin
A mon avis au tien aussi
Mais oui
A notre avis.

4) The Saint-André cemetery in Tangiers, resting place of Arthur Keyser and Caroline Hay Taylor, as commemorated in the mirlitonnades.
5) Belacqua’s cemetery among the ‘sea moonstone washing the countless toes turned up’ ‘the mountains swarthy Uccello behind the headstones.’ ‘The loveliest little lap of earth you ever saw.’ Except his coffin is empty, as we discover in the still-unpublished extra story ‘Echo’s Bones’.
6) The ‘distant tomb’ to which the old woman in Ill Seen Ill Said makes her way, ‘bearing by the stem or round her arm the cross or wreath’.
7) The grave astride which ‘they give birth’, according to Pozzo in Waiting for Godot: ‘the light gleams for an instant, then it’s night again.’
8) 'I would like my love to die /and the rain to be raining on the graveyard...'
9) The pub floor on which Murphy’s ashes end up, among ‘the sand, the beer, the butts, the glass, the matches, the spits, the vomit’, despite Murphy’s strict instructions that they be flushed down the Abbey Theatre toilet, ‘if possible during the performance of a piece, the whole to be executed without ceremony or show of grief.’
10) Montparnasse cemetery.

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