If people didn’t rot would they get buried?

The final wishes of a dying person are generally seen as sacred. For instance this week on 2Ser I was listening to a story about a Japanese man who spent the last 25 years of his life in Papua New Guinea recovering the bones of his comrades who died during World War II because he had made a pact with them and felt bound to honour it.

But in the literary and artistic world things are very different. Albert Camus and Patrick White both made specific requests that their unfinished works would be burnt. Both requests have been denied. Vladimir Nabokov made a similar request, but it appears that this too will be denied.

I am not so misty-eyed about all this, I will buy the Nabokov novel, but it does make me wonder whether the requests I have made in my will are worth anything. I mean, if I don’t get shot out of a cannon á la Hunter S. Thompson I will be mightily disappointed.


  1. Add to this all the Jeff Buckely recordings that he didn’t want to see the light of day, but have provided Sony with a steady stream of albums…But is this not Derrida’s point – I go away, I die, my writing still functions, whether legitimately or not.


  2. <>But is this not Derrida’s point – I go away, I die, my writing still functions, whether legitimately or not.<>Yes that is true, or at least hermeneutically acceptable, but in these cases the authors would probably argue that it isn’t their legitimate work – that they weren’t happy for it to enter the public domain with their name on it.


  3. From memory, Hunter S. Thompson had some wealthy friends bankroll his funeral requests. So Chris, if you are thinking of something extravagant as a dying wish, you better find some investment banking friends…rather than theologians, philosophers and struggling musicians and writers.


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