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Showing posts from October, 2011

Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated: The Art of the Obituary

Tombstones and mausoleums and their epitaphs summing up lives lived may serve as permanent markers of the dearly departed but obituaries serve as concrete public proof in novella form denoting that a person has lived and died, grim reminders of our own mortality, with evidence appearing daily of one’s departure or expiration. But obituaries are only as concise; witty; dry; culturally, politically, historically and medically accurate; and reflective of their subject as the writer who dissects and molds what we read and the publication in which they appear.             The first recorded notices of one’s death first appeared in 1731 in The Gentleman’s Magazine, a London periodical, and included short biographies of the deceased. Obituaries from their beginnings to the present day were/are selectively culled from the masses, based on the whim of the writer, the editorial bent of the newspaper, or social status. They often appeared as brief as a line or two by anonymous writers of the Broo…