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The Two-Way
2:22 pm
Mon November 28, 2011

A Kiss No More: Oscar Wilde's Tomb Will Be Protected From Smootches

Visitors to the grave of the Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde won't be able to leave a permanent mark on his tomb anymore. Since the '90s, mostly women started leaving lipstick kisses on his tomb in Paris' Père Lachaise cemetery, a gentle memento for a writer who didn't show much regard for women.

The problem was that cleaning off those kisses was damaging the stone. The Guardian reports:

Merlin Holland, Wilde's grandson, said the lipstick had become a "serious problem" because the grease sinks into the stone. "Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away," he said.

"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.

"From a technical point of view, the tomb is close to being irreparably damaged. Each cleaning has rendered the stone more porous necessitating a yet more drastic cleaning."

Paris and Dublin got together and decided to perserve the memorial and when it opens this week, it will be clear of kisses and also sport a glass barrier, "which will surround it to prevent the kissers from causing further damage."

If you're wondering, Jim Morrison is also buried at the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.