Oscar Wilde Grave Kisses

Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:07 PM
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Oscar Wilde Grave Kisses

On my recent trip to Paris with my mom, we did the now familiar (to me, at least) trek over to Pere Lachaise, for my triennial visit to pay my respects to the late Jim Morrison. I created a map of dead people to visit, including the late, great Caillebotte (as part of my Caillebotte walking tour) and Oscar Wilde.

Even though I have seen Jim Morrison's grave since 1971, a year after he died, and have grown relatively accustomed to the changes, I was really unprepared for what I encountered at the Wilde memorial. In the midst of the "scene" that presented itself, my mother and I, and a friend of ours who had come with us, walked away in a rather heated debate over whether the kisses were defacing graffiti or acts of admiration and adoration. Another layer to the discussion was a general commentary on the many unattended graves left in horrible condition, some looking as if the remains had escaped years ago.

Comments seem to differ depending on if the reflection on "like" vs. "hate" is made by a male or female. I'm curious to know the views of the Fodors board. Did you see it? What was your reaction?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Ask Morrissey? Sorry just feeling snarky
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:27 PM
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I've seen Oscar Wilde's grave, and many others, in Père Lachaise, over many years, but I don't recall seeing any "kisses." Do you mean graffiti representations of lips, or people actually kissing his gravestone, or what?

Yes, many of the graves are in deplorable condition. I thought there was a French law about families being obligated to maintain graves, but perhaps I'm wrong, or perhaps it's just not enforceable.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 03:09 PM
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Funny you ask that, I was just going through some photos tonight.

StCirq, here are two photos I took this summer:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...gs/wilde/show/

I first saw the many kisses on his memorial in the movie "Paris, je t'aime" earlier this year.

I'm of two minds on this. While I wouldn't kiss a gravestone (nor the Blarney stone, for that matter) I thought it seemed like something he would get a kick out of - you can't say the guy was prim and proper - he was definitely an irreverent artist. Close-up shots have a certain artistic flair to them, but standing back and viewing it as a whole it's not terribly attractive. I think it would be more unattractive to have a fence around it - and is such a thing something he would have preferred?

Kissing his grave has definitely gone viral though and now that it's well-covered you can be sure it will continue.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 03:19 PM
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We went this summer with a group of college students and a friend put on some Fresh DARK Lipstick just so her kiss would show up in a photo. We took a picture of her "kiss" her pointing to it and then preceded to harass our friend of the numerous Viral diseases she might get from that "kiss" as there were many other's.

Sadly many sites where in terrible shape. We were told that Jim Morrison's body was actually moved to the back of his site (where the little fence is now) because of Vandalism. That is so sad. It's ok to look but to desecrate a grave-site is just plain Creepy.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 05:15 PM
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I've seen Oscar Wilde's tomb both ways and I definitely hate the kisses that have been bestowed in recent years; they have ruined the look of a lovely tombstone.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 06:53 PM
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nice to meet a Caillibotte fan or is that the name of the tours and not in tributte to the artist??
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 06:54 PM
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If I remember correctly, I have seen kisses on Oscar's grave as long as 10 years ago.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 08:14 PM
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I have seen the grave, and it never occurred to me that the kisses were left in anything other than admiration for the man.
However, I will admit that some were probably left by people who had no idea even who he was, but were just following along.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 08:23 PM
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I don't think of it as vandalism but then I like graffiti too. I saw his grave stone covered in kisses back in 2002 so I reapplied my lipstick and kissed it myself. Didn't even think about germs, I never do.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 08:49 PM
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A popular grave site is Victor Noz(. an 1870 jounaalist I hope I have his name right). Rubbing of his bronze penis(under his pants) is
supposed to make you fertile/
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Old Jan 3rd, 2010, 09:31 PM
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It is Victor Noir, a journalist. He was shot by Pierre Bonaparte, a cousin of Napoleon III.

And no, there is no French law about families obligated to maintain graves.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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I don't have any issues with the kisses on Wilde's grave, though I definitely would not kiss it myself. (yuk!)

FWIW, MFifi's current trip report has some beautiful shots of Pere Lachaise. Here's the link of the Pere Lachaise segment from her TR (with photo links):
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-6084981
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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When I was at Oscar's grave in November 2008, I noticed that the penis of the figure on his grave had been chipped off.

Pere Lachaise is interesting, but I think Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires has a much bigger WOW-factor.

Thin
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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 02:47 PM
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I thought this was apropos although if there is anyone more often quoted than Dorothy Parker, I don't know about it:

“If, with the literate, I am Impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit; We all assume that Oscar said it.” - Dorothy Parker

One of my cats is named Cecily by the way, if anyone happens to "get" that....
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Old Jan 6th, 2010, 09:18 PM
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I'm reading this with some satisfaction that I am not the only female who found the kisses not vulgar at all (as my mom and friend felt). I thought if it had been my husband's grave (and he's very mch alive), he would have really dug it (no pun intended). When we returned and I showed him the pics, he agreed.

To Cigalechanta, yes, Gustave Caillebotte. I visited his grave (a copy of his self-portrait that WAS in the Musee D'Orsay)adorns the front of his family crypt. I created my own walking tour to pass and photograph places he painted, such as the intersection in the 8th for his Rainy Day in the Chicago Art Museum, and the pont de l'Europe by the Gare Saint-Lazare (also painted by Monet). Then catalogued all of the paintings remaining in the Musee d'Orsay that were left by Will owned by Caillebotte (he gave substantially more to France, but at the time of his death, impressionistic art was not a la mode, so they declined a large part of his gift -- ouch!).
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Old Jan 6th, 2010, 11:17 PM
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Maybe the Gravesite up-keep laws in France are not state-wide, but departmental or communal?

I distinctly remembering visiting the cemetery at Beynac and there were legal notices on a couple of very delapidated grave sites that if they were not maintained by a specific date they would be reposessed.
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Old Jan 7th, 2010, 12:04 AM
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"I distinctly remembering visiting the cemetery at Beynac and there were legal notices on a couple of very delapidated grave sites that if they were not maintained by a specific date they would be reposessed."

It may happen when the grave has not been maintained for 30 years and there is an additional delay of 3 years after this official notice.
See :
http://www.obseques-liberte.com/faq/...nt-caveau.html
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