Tag Archives: Recoleta Cemetery

A History of Recoleta Cemetery

City of Angels The History of Recoleta CemeteryCity of Angels The History of Recoleta Cemetery by Omar López Mato

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Books in English on Argentina’s Recoleta Cemetery are impossible to find, so I was thrilled when this one turned up on Amazon. It’s a beautifully illustrated walking tour guide to Buenos Aires’ amazing open air cemetery/museum of art and history, stuffed with full-page full-color photos of one-of-a-kind statuary and architecture.

So why don’t I give the book more stars? The text reads like it’s been put through Google Translate. Usually, I could figure out what it meant to say, but then there’s this: “Being the only offsprirg (sic), her parents honoured her (should read their) beloved daughter building this vault in the particular style she cultivated.” I’m not entirely sure what cultivated means. Preferred? The girl was 25 when she died. Maybe she was an architect, setting a fashion with her work?

The text continues, “The statue was commended to (commissioned from?) Villarich who depicted her from ancient pictures in the company of her predilect dog.” The photos weren’t that ancient, since she died in 1970. I think predilect is a mistranslation for favorite. It’s a lovely statue, whatever the text intended to say.

The fractured English does have its charming moments. The listing above concludes with: “His (her?) father, a famous stylist, wrote a poem in Italian, distilling his sorrow.” As much as I mock, I am touched by the image of the father’s sorrow distilled into poetry. I’m guessing her dad wrote her epitaph.

The book has a thumbnail map for every entry, so it would be easy to locate these monuments in the overstuffed cemetery. There are even written directions and a fold-out map in the back, complete with directional arrows. All in all, it makes me want to go see Recoleta Cemetery for myself.

I got my copy from Amazon: http://amzn.to/2g0wuGZ.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Upcoming Cemeteries of the Week

Yokohama001I’m closing in on 150 Cemeteries of the Week.  I still have a bunch of tourist destinations in mind, but I thought perhaps I’d open the subject up for discussion.  What would you like to see?

I’m including a poll, just to get a sense of whether these graveyards are as fascinating to you as they are to me.

If there’s something I absolutely must write about — but I’ve left it off my list — please feel free to write it in or leave a comment below.

Keep in mind that I am limited to those cemeteries that I can research, either through books or over the internet.  If I can’t find much information, I can’t write an informative post.  Also, I need to be able to find illustrations, either through photos I can borrow (with full credit, of course) or with vintage postcards or other ephemera.

The whole list of Cemeteries of the Week to date is here.

Posthumous Adventures

After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous CorpsesAfter the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses by Edwin Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What an amusing little book this is. I found in amongst other treasures on the Death shelf at the Brand Bookstore in Glendale, California. Why is it all the SoCal used bookstores have these brilliant Death shelves? The Brand is, by far, the best, which I guess is due to Eddie, bless ’im.

Anyway, Murphy describes After The Funeral as a “necrobiography.” In some lights, it might just be. But it’s really closer in tone to its subtitle, a collection of post-mortem adventures. Of course, there’s Eva Peron, who’s body was shellacked, hijacked, buried under an assumed name in Italy, exhumed, had someone else’s corpse kidnapped and ransomed for her return to Argentina, and was finally buried at government expense in a bomb-proof mausoleum in the Recoleta Cemetery.

Evita got lucky when her survivors elected to leave her remains in one piece. Contrary to legend, Byron’s heart reposes (albeit, in a jar) alongside his body in England. His lungs, however, were granted to the Greeks, so they could honor part of their hero in the land of his death. Mary Shelley kept Percy’s heart in her desk, which it crumbled to powder. A gravedigger saved a skull he claimed was Mozart’s, which changed hands several times before coming to rest in the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Molière, whose grave was used to make Pere Lachaise Cemetery attractive to the masses in 1817—and begin the whole garden cemetery movement, was probably never exhumed from St. Joseph’s Cemetery until that and other graveyards were emptied out, their anonymous contents shifted to the Paris Catacombs. Does a pilgrimage count if you visit the grave but not the occupant alleged to be buried within?

If you wanted to visit the grave of Christopher Columbus, the pilgrimage would take you to four different cities: Valladolid and Seville in Spain, Santo Domingo and Cuba in the New World. Each claims to hold the remains of the explorer, who died in profound obscurity.

After the Funeral makes for very entertaining, if sobering, reading. Who would have guessed that the price of fame would include having your bones and entrails scattered hither and yon, while impostors repose in your tomb(s)?

A hard cover edition is available on Amazon: After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses

This review was originally published in Morbid Curiosity #4.

View all my reviews