Death, Dying, Grief and Mourning

            "Death is always the same,
                               but each man dies in his own way."

Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands, 1960


   Search Site


in Western Literature

An Anthology by  Adrienne Nater

 • Home •  • Preface • • Introduction •  • Chronology •  • Index •  • About the Author •


Death, Dying, Grief, and Mourning

in Western Literature


Printable Page


Emile Zola, Nana, 1880


Death of Nana

Emile Zola, Nana, 1880

Nana is Dead!

They went briskly out, casting a last glance at the bed as they passed it. But whilst Lucy, Blanche, and Caroline still remained behind, Rose gave a final look round, for she wanted to leave the room in order. She drew a curtain across the window, and then it occurred to her that the lamp was not the proper thing, and that a taper should take its place. .So she lit one of the copper candelabra on the chimney-piece and placed it on the night-table beside the corpse. A brilliant light suddenly illuminated the dead woman’s face. The women were horror struck. They shuttered and escaped.

"Ah, she’s changed, she’s changed!" murmured Rose Mignon, who was the last to remain.

She went away; she shut the door. Nana was left alone, with upturned face in the light cast of the candle. She was fruit of the charnel-house, a heap of matter and blood, a shovelful of corrupted flesh thrown down on the pillow. The pustules had invaded the whole of her face, so that each touched it neighbour. Fading and sunken, they had assumed the grayish hue of mud, and on that formless pulp, where the features had ceased to be traceable, they already resembled some decaying damp from the grave. One eye, the left eye, had completely foundered among bubbling purulence, and the other, which remained half open, looked like a deep black ruinous hole. The nose was still suppurating. Quite a reddish crush was peeling from one of the cheeks, and invading the mouth, which was distorted into a horrible grin. And over this loathsome and grotesque mask of death, the hair, the beautiful hair, still blazed like sunlight and flowed downwards in rippling gold. Venus was rotting. It seemed as though the poison she had assimilated in the gutters, and on the carrion tolerated by the roadside, the leaven with which she had poisoned a whole people, had but now remounted to her face and turned it to corruption.

The room was empty. A great despairing came up from the boulevard, and swelled the curtain.

" A Berlin! A Berlin! A Berlin!



Adrienne Nater, 2008

©© 2008 Adrienne Nater. All rights reserved.