Falling Books Kill; e-Books Don’t-Alkan’s Mystery Death

Charles-Valentin Alkan, 1813-1888,  was a French-Jewish composer whose death was said to be caused by a falling bookcase. If you are an inveterate reader, is there a better death, than being buried under a bookcase and books? How sweet.

It was believed he was reaching on a high shelf for the Talmud when the bookcase fell on him. However, years later a letter from one of his students who wrote that Alkan died in his kitchen from a heavy coat-umbrella stand. His story goes that his concierge heard moaning and found him lying on the kitchen floor. He was taken to his bed where he died that night.

Well that kills my joy. But I ask, which story is better. Killed by an umbrella stand/coat rack or a bookcase?

It was further thought the bookcase story derived from the following legend about Aryeh Leib Asher Gunzberg, 1695-1785. I quote from Wiki.

“A legend exists of his death. During his studies a book-case fell on him, covering him with books. His students were able to rescue him after an hour or so and he related to them that he had been covered by the books of the authors with whom he had quarreled. He had asked forgiveness from all of them and they all complied save for one, Mordecai Yoffe (known as the Levush) who refused. He knew therefore that he was not long for this world, and pronounced the verse in Hebrew “Aryeh shoag mi loi yiroh”; i.e. that Aryeh (the lion, meaning himself) shoag (roars), but mi (an acronym of Mordecai Yoffeh, but can also mean ‘who’) loi yiroh (is not afraid).[2]

It is speculated that this legend is the source of the urban myth surrounding the death of the French-Jewish composer Charles-Valentin Alkan, whose family originated from Metz.[3]

Personally I will belive the myth of Alkan’s death. I find it inspiring.

Alkan’s grave.

The good thing about e-Books is your death will not result from a falling bookcase.

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