December 16, 2011

Oscar Wilde’s Sanitized Burial Site

Apparently, Oscar Wilde’s tomb in Paris has been the site of a strange ritual since 2000. The stone angel and marble were covered with lipstick from fans kissing the tomb. Disgusted, the family (now with a surname of Holland, which Wilde’s widow changed after his conviction as a homosexual) had the marble steam-cleaned and erected a seven foot high glass enclosure to keep the madly kissing public out. Honestly, it’s a wonder there isn’t a little paper band around the glass with the motto in English and French, “Sanitized for your protection.”

People, of course, are kissing the glass.

What would Wilde have made of this? Would he have adored the kisses and flowers? Or would he have been disgusted, like his prudish offspring? I can’t help thinking that the barrier has caused a humming from the grave. That would be Wilde spinning in it. A gravesite with no mourners and no reaction to the contents is an abandoned memory.

Fans honor Wilde by keeping his legacy of living out loud alive.

Meantime, I know that my next trip to Paris, I will go to his grave, lipstick in hand.

Category: Books

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