A Wilde Day

There was recently an exhibit about Oscar Wilde at the Petit Palais here in Paris. I decided to check it out since I am somewhat a fan of his. I read his most popular book, The Picture of Dorian Gray, years ago and it is mentioned many times here and there about someone who wants to stay eternally young even if it means a pact with the devil. I also saw his play, The Importance of Being Earnest, which I really liked. It was full of humor and in the production that I saw the main older woman character was played by a man which added to the laughter. Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland and became a well known writer of many things. He was known for his personality and humor and his support of aestheticism, a way of living a life devoted to the arts, beauty and culture. In fact, he was brought to America to speak on it and dressed the part in short pants and silk stockings, for what was supposed to be for four months but ended up staying for a year doing things like drinking whiskey with miners in Leadville, Colorado. He was wildly popular. He returned to England, married and had two children but eventually ended up in a homosexual affair with a young man, Lord Alfred Douglas, whose father was royalty, the Marquess of Queensberry. First Wilde sued the father for slander but dropped the case but the father had him brought to trial for sodomy and gross indecency. Wilde was found guilty and put in prison for two years with hard labor. The prisoners were treated horribly and Wilde, not a well man to begin with, became ill and passed out rupturing an ear drum. When he was finally released he moved to Paris and lived a live of financial ruin and drank a lot. He eventually ended up in a rather rundown hotel, now the very nice l’Hotel, of which he said “The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One of us has got to go” where he died of cerebral meningitis on November 30, 1900 at the age of 45, probably as the result of that ruptured ear drum. He is now buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

img_2366 Here is a photo of him at the exhibit. I thought it must have been hard to put this exhibit together as he was a writer and there is just so much you can look at in books, etc. I was surprised that the French found him interesting enough to put an exhibit together but he did die in Paris and had plays performed there.  It was rather small exhibit.

img_2371 Here he is in silk stockings.

img_2370 To add some color and interest, they exhibited some paintings of an art exhibit that Wilde had written about.

img_2367 They had many of his original manuscripts and I loved seeing his hand writing.

img_2372 Some of his quotes were on the walls. One of his most famous is: We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

A few days later I went to Wilde’s tomb in Père Lachaise.

img_2638 Here it is in the late afternoon sun, an Assyrian God. They had to put a barrier around it because so many women were leaving “kisses” on it for some reason. The lipstick was destroying the tomb.

img_2639Closeup.

img_2641 A kiss on the acrylic barrier.

One thought to “A Wilde Day”

  1. Thank you for inviting us along on this exhibit, a memory of Wilde’s life and work, and a view of his tomb. I knew he had been imprisoned for sodomy, but, having a gay brother, I couldn’t before deal with learning too many of the details of how that experience impacted the trajectory of his life. I guess I could imagine it too easily for my brother if he had been born in another time in the past . . . or, perhaps now, in the future.

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