VIP Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde (October 16, 1854 - November 30, 1900)

Perhaps the wittiest man ever born, Oscar Wilde tried hashish in Algiers, where from he wrote to Robert Ross in January 1895, “Bosie and I have taken to haschish: it is quite exquisite: three puffs of smoke and then peace and love.”

André Gide arrived there by chance and described in great detail the circumstances of this bond between love and hashish in Si le grain ne meurt (1921),

Quelques vieux Arabes étaient là, accroupis sur des nattes et fumant le kief, qui ne se dérangerent pas lorsque nous prîmes place auprès d’eux. Et d’abord je ne compris pas ce qui, dans ce café, pouvait attirer Wilde; mais bientôt je distinguai, près du foyer plein de cendres, dans l’ombre, un caouadji, assez jeune encore, qui prépara pour nous deux tasses de thé de menthe, que Wilde préférait au café. Et je me laissais assoupir à demi par la torpeur étrange de ce lieu, lorsque dans l’entre-bâillement de la porte, apparut un adolescent merveilleux. [...] Wilde m’apprit un peu plus tard qu’il s’appelait Mohammed et que c’était « celui de Bosy »; s’il hésitait d’abord à entrer dans le café, c’est qu’il n’y voyait pas lord Alfred. Ses grands yeux noirs avaient ce regard langoureux que donne le haschisch.

Wilde wrote (from prison) in De Profundis, "I remember when I was at Oxford saying to one of my friends. . . .that I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world, and that I was going out into the world with the passion in my soul. And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived." Amid that orchard the tree of life, with its 'blind lush leaf,' stood next to the tree of knowledge, with its 'staring fury.' He wrote in 1886, "Our most fiery moments of ecstasy are merely shadows of what somewhere else we have felt, or of what we long some day to feel. . . . There is an unknown land full of strange flowers and subtle perfumes, a land of which it is joy of all joys to dream, a land where all things are perfect and poisonous."

Wilde saw himself as the last Endymion, and, imprisoned for having a homosexual affair, he seems to have put himself to sleep withthe anodynes absinthe and opium. December 1891, Leon Daudet Schwob wrote, "While he ate–and he ate little–he never stopped smoking opium-tainted Egyptian cigarettes. A terrible absinthe-drinker, through which he got his visions and his desires."

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