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Death and the AuthorHow D. H. Lawrence Died, and Was Remembered$
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David Ellis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546657

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546657.001.0001

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Famous Last Words

Famous Last Words

(p.132) 13 Famous Last Words
Death and the Author

David Ellis

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the famous last words of a dying man. When a great deal of attention is focused on the hour of death, everything associated with it becomes important. Donne's onlookers would not only be watching to see when the dying man stopped breathing but also listening to hear whatever requests, advice, or famous last words he might utter. The higher the social rank the more intense the listening was likely to be. Last words take many forms. What certainly still pleases is when the final words to be recorded — or invented — seem eminently characteristic because then the sting of death is partly drawn, and the dead can be thought of as having continued to be ‘themselves’ until the very end. Since Lawrence died so relatively quietly and privately a more suitable comment on the convention of last words can perhaps be found in the mild irony of one of his biographers, Hugh Kingsmill.

Keywords:   D. H. Lawrence, Hugh Kingsmill, death, last words, dying man

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