Oscar Wilde Tomb … Pere Lachaise in Paris … Did Nazis grab his manhood … ?

Today, 111 years ago – to be exact on 30 November 1900 – Oscar Wilde died in Paris. He died penniless. He was just 46 years old. For the last three years of his life, the married Wilde and father of two children, had moved from one rundown hotel to another in ‘self-exile’ following his […]

Oscar Wilde

Today, 111 years ago – to be exact on 30 November 1900 – Oscar Wilde died in Paris.

He died penniless.

He was just 46 years old.

For the last three years of his life, the married Wilde and father of two children, had moved from one rundown hotel to another in ‘self-exile’ following his imprisonment in England for gross indecency and homosexuality. (I won’t go into that.)

His final abode was at the Paris hotel, L’Hôtel, today one of Paris’s most chic little hotels, but at that time considered ‘dingy’.  It was then called the Hôtel d’Alsace. Officially, he died of cerebral meningitis, but some believe that he died of syphilis.

He was first buried in the Bagneux cemetery outside Paris and then in 1909 his remains were exhumed and laid to rest in Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery where it has become one of the most visited tombs.

The tomb in Pere Lachaise Cemetery

The tombstone was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) and it depicts a male angel. The angel’s genitalia were rather huge, but not that anyone has seen it for some years because one morning in 1922 workmen noticed that the genitalia had been chopped off.  It has never been found, but it was rumored that the cemetery’s supervisor had had it removed for the sake of decency although he had later used it as a paperweight in his office.  Another story was that during the Second World War the occupying Nazis had come across it in the store room of a museum and had sent it to Germany, presumably to Hitler.

The tomb, as you will see from the photos here, has been vandalized atrociously over the past 20 years by people writing graffiti on it and women leaving the lipsticked outline of their lips on it, apparently believing that it will bestow fertility on them.

Vandalized

Vandalized

However, after numerous complaints and appeals from Wilde’s family and various associations, the city authorities have cleaned up the tomb and, like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, enclosed it behind glass.

There will be a short ceremony at the tomb today. It will be attended by the actor Rupert Everette and Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland. (Wilde’s wife reverted to her maiden name of Holland.)

The cost of the clean-up came to 40,000 Euro which was paid by the Irish Government.

Paris’s Museum d’Orsay is also honoring Wilde currently with its ‘Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde’ exposition. It runs until January 12, 2012.

Kisses for Oscar

 

Please note that these photographs are copyrighted Asad A. Mirza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

2 Responses to “Oscar Wilde Tomb … Pere Lachaise in Paris … Did Nazis grab his manhood … ?”

  1. 2
    Marilyn Z. Tomlins Says:

    Charmaine, the saddest life was that of Vincent van Gogh and I hope that one day I could you to his grave outside Paris. And to his last abode.

    I think that one must be a little crazy to be able to create anything. So I should be doing well … not so?!

  2. 1
    Charmaine Howard Says:

    Your Comments
    I have sometimes wondered why great artists (painters or writers) often had sad tragic lives. Do you have an explanation perhaps, Marilyn.?

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