“Here is another story about our compassion. In a village not far from here, a young man murdered a banker and his wife, then raped the servant girl and drank all the wine in the cellar. He was tried, found guilty, sentenced to death, and executed. Well, there was such interest in seeing this peculiar fellow die on the guillotine that people came from all over the countryside the night before—more than ten thousand of them. There were such crowds that the bakeries ran out of bread. And because the inns were full, people spent the night outside: to see this man die, they slept in the snow.
“And we shake our heads over the Roman gladiators. Oh charlatans!”
—Lydia Davis, from “Ten Stories from Flaubert”
Art Credit Troy Moth