Chronicler of Death...

This is a very interesting, poignant piece on Guardian's CiF section from Anne Wroe, who writes the obituaries for The Economist. Wroe claims that a good obituary writer requires a degree of detachment yet this piece makes clear the emotions inherent in such an occupation and often, like life, death brings up the paradoxes of personalities. She also makes many other pertinent points, not least her assertion that our novels don't feature sentimental death-bed scenes, something I too looked at when I claimed that the death scenes in Victorian novels were wholly unrealistic on The Guardian's book section a while ago. Silences for the (famous and newsworthy) recently departed at public events are de rigeur and, she says, surely signs that as a nation we are more accepting of death. A healthy sign only when it doesn't tip over, as it did in Victorian times, into the maudlin and the marketed - god knows how many Victorian death merchants made their millions that way.

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