City of living-dead Pere Lachaise

It might sound weird but I love cemeteries. When I was rambling along River Sein after visiting Eiffel tower I recalled that Oscar Wilde, the writer of one of my favourite books The Picture of Dorian Gray also rests in Paris, at Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

I have stopped using car for my local journeys since I gave up smoking. I trust public transport more, it’s less stressful than driving and efficient too. Almost all European cities have great public transit system that can take you from one end of the city to another. In London underground, in Paris metro, take a tram in Amsterdam. I took a metro and reached the nearest station to the Pere Lachaise cemetery.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery is Paris’s biggest and one of the most visited cemeteries in the world, situated on 110 acres. It is also the location of five Great War memorials.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Pere Lachaise Cemetery

There are so many famous tombs, and such accomplished artfulness in the cemetery, it becomes something like a visit to a museum. Pere Lachaise Cemetery was established by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804 and is the resting place for so many writers, scholars, actors, artists and singers.

Posted at the entrances are maps pointing visitors towards the most famous graves, but on every path there are monuments which make you stop and stare. A day is definitely not enough. A free map is available in the administration building. No unruly behavior, no pets except service animals, no unsupervised children, no unauthorized vehicles, no picnics, no alcohol, no walking on the lawns or flower beds is allowed.

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“Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

Oscar Fingal Wills Wilde
Oscar Fingal Wills Wilde

Oscar Fingal Wills Wilde was an Irish playwright, dramatist, novelist, and poet. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.

After an ear injury was not treated, late in 1900, he developed further infections which led to meningitis, and his subsequent death at the age of 46 on 30 November 1900. Oscar was initially buried in the Cimetiere de Bagneux outside Paris but his remains were moved to Pere Lachaise, the French National Cemetery on July 19, 1909. In 2011 the tomb was cleaned of the many lipstick marks left there by admirers, and a glass barrier was installed to prevent further marks or damage

Jim Morrison was an American singer, songwriter, and poet moved to Paris in March 1971 with the intention of concentrating on his writing and to quit drinking. Unfortunately he died of heart attack on July 3, 1971, at the age of 27.

Louis Visconti was an Italian-born French architect and designer. Son of the Italian archaeologist and art historian Ennio Quirino Visconti, he designed many Parisian residences, public buildings and squares. He is probably most famed for designing the 1842 tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides.

Tomb of Louis Visconti
Tomb of Louis Visconti – Picture credit: JLPC

Victor Noir was a French journalist, a Jewish cobbler who had converted to Catholicism, born Yvan Salmon at Attigny, Vosges, he adopted “Victor Noir” as his pen name after his mother’s maiden name. He went to Paris and became an apprentice journalist for the newspaper La Marseillaise.

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Victor Noir is more famous for his death and his grave site than for his life. Noir was born Yvan Salmon, but adopted a pen name when he moved to Paris to take up journalism. When a cousin of the Emperor challenged the owner of the newspaper to a duel for which Noir worked, Noir was sent, as one of the seconds, to arrange the details of the duel. When the Prince referred to Noir and a companion as ignoble, a slap was exchanged, with either Noir striking the Prince or being struck by him, and the Prince then shot Noir dead on 11 January 1870.

To mark Noir’s grave, a bronze statue of the man lying flat as if just shot, his hat lying beside him, was erected.

My life is like a candle melts, I am not wrong, like a log of wood is more isolated corner Dygdan and other wood fire and charcoal brown, but not burned and was not fresh, just from others suffocated by smog.

Sadegh Hedayat
Sadegh Hedayat – Picture credit: Mansour Nasiri

Sadegh Hedayat was an Iranian writer and intellectual. Hedayat was born to a northern Iranian aristocratic family in Tehran and was educated at French Catholic school and Dar-ul-Fonoon. In 1925, he was among a few students who travelled to Europe to continue their studies.

He is credited with having brought Persian language and literature into the mainstream of international contemporary writing. Hedayat started attacking the two major causes of Iran’s annihilation, the monarchy and the clergy, and through his stories he tried to attribute the deafness and blindness of the nation to the abuses of these two major powers.

Hedayat’s last published work, The Message of Kafka, bespeaks melancholy, desperation and a sense of doom experienced only by those subjected to discrimination and suppression. His novels’ The Blind Owl,’ and ‘Haji Aqa,’ were banned from the 18th Tehran International Book Fair in 2005.

On 9 April 1951 he committed suicide by gassing himself in a rented apartment. He had plugged all the gaps in the windows and door with cotton and, so it would not harm anyone.

There is a long list of famous personalities who were laid to rest in the cemetery which can be found on Wikipedia as well.

I loved everything about the romantic city of dead Pere Lachaise. I would love to go back and explore what I have missed.

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