Oscar Wilde’s tomb is to be protected after coming under a sustained attack of … kissing.
The final resting place of the famous Irish playwright and poet, located in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, has been damaged by the popular practice of leaving lipstick kisses on the tombstone. It was not the kisses causing the damage per se, but the repeated cleaning of the stone to remove the smooch marks.
Kissing Wilde’s tomb has been a popular activity with tourists since the 1990s, yet Wilde’s grandson says the lipstick had become a “serious problem.” As he told The Guardian:
“Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away. No amount of appeals to the public did any good at all. Kissing Oscar’s tomb on the Paris tourist circuit has become a cult pastime, which is proving impossible to break. Even if one could catch someone inflagrante delicto – there is a €9,000 (£7,700) fine – most perpetrators are probably tourists, so they would be home before the French authorities could bring them to court.”
According to Holland, the tomb is almost “irreparably damaged,” with each subsequent cleaning causing the stone to become more porous, weakening its resistance to the elements and yet more lipstick.
However, authorities in Paris and Dublin have now knocked their heads together to concoct a solution: from this week, the freshly cleaned stone will feature a glass barrier, “which will surround it to prevent the kissers from causing further damage.”
Rest in peace, Mr Wilde, your stone is safe.