Oscar Wilde: Commemorating with Plexiglas

The only thing Oscar Wilde devotees cannot resist is temptation– the temptation to kiss, embrace, draw upon, carve and otherwise show their delectably destructive love for the great, tormented genius who wrote, among many other things, The Importance of Being Earnest.

Wilde died in Paris in 1900; his tomb dates to 1914, an elegant, airborne confection of stone. It is being loved to death, like Yosemite National Park.

That is why this Wednesday, November 30th, the 111th anniversary of Wilde’s death has special meaning. His heirs and Paris municipal authorities have done the unthinkable–for Wilde acolytes, that is: they have protected the funerary monument by encasing it in glass, as if it were the Ara Pacis of August Caesar in Rome. Worshipers are now kept at a safe, sanitized distance.

Here’s a snippet of what I wrote in my book “Paris, Paris” about Wilde and his tomb:

A hundred yards away, in Division 92, near the crematorium, a prim woman glanced nervously around before surreptitiously stroking the lumpy pants of long-dead Victor Noir, his prodigious parts already polished by many hands. Another hundred yards east, a teenage boy applied pink lipstick to his lips, puckered and kissed the tomb of Oscar Wilde…

The footage I shot is recent, from a few weeks before the glass was mounted. Why do I have a feeling that very soon the transparent barrier will be smeared and covered with lipstick?

Wilde would love it!

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