Whose famous last "words" were a punctuation mark?
April 15, 2016 7:05 AM   Subscribe

I recall reading, some years ago, about a semi-famous intellectual--I believe it was a philosopher, or theologian, or author--who, on his/her deathbed, wrote a single punctuation mark as his/her last "words." The mark was either a comma or a semicolon, if I recall correctly. No matter how hard I try, I can't find the answer via Google.
posted by duffell to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not "last words" exactly, but any chance it was Graham Greene?
posted by cogitron at 7:20 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also not last words, but might you be thinking of Victor Hugo's telegram?
posted by ejs at 7:22 AM on April 15, 2016

Thank you--but it was definitely neither of those. I'm fairly certain this was a deathbed/last words situation.
posted by duffell at 7:45 AM on April 15, 2016

In *Eats, Shoots and Leaves*, the author says that the dying words of an unidentified 20th century writer were "I should have used fewer semicolons." I doubt that's what you're after, but in case it's something you misremembered ...
posted by WCityMike at 9:42 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I browsed this list on Wikiquote and didn't see anything that was just a punctuation mark. I'm listing it so you don't browse it, or at least look at the edit date before you get sucked in and read too many final words.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:59 AM on April 15, 2016

If I'm unable to find a source for this, I'm going to assume I dreamt it or something, and therefore am super profound (if only on a subconscious level).
posted by duffell at 10:16 AM on April 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

This story immediately brought to mind the play "Wit." In it, the main character recalls a conversation she had with her professor about a problematic translation of Donne's "Death be Not Proud." Here is the the scene in question.
posted by xyzzy at 11:58 AM on April 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

In the last letter she wrote to George Burns, Gracie Allen wrote, "Never place a period where God has placed a comma." Is it possible that this is what you're remembering?
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:54 PM on April 15, 2016

I'm still pretty sure it's none of the examples given, but thanks for the responses so far--particularly the one on Wit from xyzzy, because I've gone ahead and purchased a copy of that screenplay. The dialogue is beautiful.
posted by duffell at 6:33 AM on April 18, 2016

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