The way to the cemetery

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The way to the cemetery is a novella by Thomas Mann , which originated in 1900 and was first published in Simplicissimus . The first book publication followed in 1903 ( Tristan. Six novels ); In 1922 the narrative was made into short stories. Volume I adopted, in 1945 in Selected Stories and in 1958 in the Stockholm Complete Edition .


Praise God Piepsam has been neglected by life. Not enough with the fact that he looks pathetic, pale and pitiful and his face is disfigured by a huge red bulbous nose with "a lot of small protrusions" that looks like a melancholy carnival joke, he is also an alcoholic, he is his wife and three children died away and lost his job.

One fine spring morning, clad in shabby black, slowly walking along the footpath to the cemetery with his head bowed, he suddenly heard the sound of an approaching bicycle behind him. Sullenly, he realizes that it's a young man, a “carefree tourist” with a colorful shirt and “the cheekiest little hat in the world”. So he came “like life and rang the bell; but Piepsam did not avoid a hair's breadth. "

The cyclist angrily squeezes past Piepsam at a slow pace and as he rolls by he hears him reading the license plate of the bicycle out loud. In response to his astonished inquiry, he learns that Piepsam wanted to report the cyclist because he had not used the street but the sidewalk. However, the young man is not aware of any guilt, as numerous tracks in the gravel indicate that many cyclists have already used this footpath before him. Finally, indifferent to the old man's bitterness, he puts an end to the conversation and wants to continue on the footpath. Piepsam climbs into a furious outburst of anger. He tries in vain to cling to the wheel that is driving away and to stop it. He hurls wild abuse at the perplexed driver.

“But now life has become rough.” The young man pushes Piepsam back with force: “You are probably drunk. [...] I'll cut your bones in two! ”With these words life turns its back on him and cycles away indignantly. Piepsam stares after him passed out, panting, then he gets a real fit of rage. He screams and yells for so long and with such an inhuman voice that gradually a large crowd of people appears, half amused, half indignant. The bike has long since disappeared in the distance, then Piepsam, choked by his anger, passed out and shortly afterwards was pushed into an ambulance by two paramedics, "with two pretty little horses", like a loaf of bread Oven pushes. “It all went with great precision, with a few practiced moves, clip and click, like in a monkey theater. And then they drove Lobgott Piepsam away. "


The story tells of a lonely choleric who can be compared in part to the eccentric Tobias Mindernickel from Mann's novella of the same name. Tobias also lives without contact with his environment and is only perceived by them as an object of mockery, which also leads to a bitter end. In terms of tenor, however, the two texts differ considerably, as Thomas Mann strikes an amusing, conversational tone in Der Weg zum Friedhof , which greatly contributes to the grotesque character of the story.


  1. Simplicissimus, (Munich), Vol. 5, No. 30, from September 20, 1900