Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Graveyard Sirens" by Guy de Maupassant

I recently was cataloging a book of short stories by Guy de Maupassant. I remember reading a couple of his short stories in high school--"The Necklace" and "A Piece of String." One of the stories I encountered was entitled "Graveyard Sirens." In this story, the storyteller is relating a visit to Montmartre. I just want to share a few of the author's words.

. . . Now, I have always liked cemeteries because they sadden and rest me; and I need that influence at times. Besides, many of my friends are laid to rest there, and I go to see them once in a while. . . .

I like graveyards because they are such immense, densely populated cities. Just think of all the bodies buried in that small space, of the countless generations of Parisians laid there forever, eternally entombed in the little vaults of their little graves marked by a cross or a stone, while the living -- fools that they are! -- take up so much room and make such a fuss.

Cemeteries have some monuments quite as interesting as those to be seen in the museums. . . .

I walked slowly along the alleys of graves where neighbors no longer visit, no longer sleep togehter, nor read the papers. I began reading the epitaphs. There is nothing more amusing in the world. Labiche and Meilhac have never made me laugh as much as some of these tombstone inscriptions. I tell you these crosses and marble slaves on which the relatives of the dead have poured out their regrets and their wishes for the happiness of the departed, their hopes of reunion -- the hypocrites! -- make better reading than Balzac's funniest tales! But waht I love in Montmartre are the abandoned plots filled with yewtrees and cypress, the resting-place of those departed long ago. However, the green trees nourished by the bodies will soon be felled to make room for those that have recently passed away, whose graves will be there, under little marble slabs. . . .

How many of us have had similar stories in our graveyard visits? I know that I've encountered some humorous epitaphs and curious wordings on markers. Many of us have similar feelings about the restfulness of cemeteries. The full collection of short stories is available at Google Books. A Google search for the short story and author will bring up this result for you. The story begins on page 311 of the 10-volume-in-1 edition published in 1903 by Walter J. Black.

By the way, there is also an interesting story entitled "The Will" on pages 562-565.

Source: "Graveyard Sirens, in The Complete Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant. Ten volumes in one. New York: Walter J. Black, 1903, pp. 311-316.

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1 Comments:

  • Thanks, Lori, for this introduction to "Graveyard Sirens." Most interesting --- and most appropriate for those of us who depend so much on the information from graveyards.

    Terry Thornton
    Fulton, Mississippi

    By Blogger Terry Thornton, at 6:25 PM  

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