The days of puckering up to leave a lipstick kiss on Oscar Wilde's tomb are over for all but the most intrepid devotees. Hordes of adoring visitors have made their pilgrimage to the writer's final resting spot in the Pêre Lachaise cemetery in Paris and left their mark on his tomb in the form of hundreds of lipstick kisses, drawn hearts, and messages. "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," Wilde's grandson, Merle Holland, tells the Guardian. The grease of the lipstick was no good for the stonework, and cleaning it even worse. Now a freshly scrubbed monument protected by a glass barrier will be unveiled this week.
Wilde died, bankrupt, in Paris in 1900 at the age of 46. It wasn't until 1914 that the grave monument, a flying naked angel by sculptor Jacob Epstein, was unveiled. The restoration (which will also replace the angel's hacked off and stolen genitalia) was largely funded by the Irish government. The unveiling will take place Wednesday, the anniversary of Wilde's death. Holland is hopeful—but realistic—about the success of the new glass barrier. "Some determined kissers will no doubt try to find ways of kissing the upper extremities," he admitted.