Oscar Wilde: The soul and the senses

Portrait of Wilde by Sarony, New York, 1882, in the George Eastman House Collection

For St. Patrick’s Day, let’s spend a few minutes with one of the great Irish-born writers: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). I’ve been thinking lately that I need to reread The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) for several reasons, including its many mentions of scent.

Here are a few lines from this novel that feel appropriate for springtime:

“Lord Henry went out to the garden and found Dorian Gray burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms, feverishly drinking in their perfume as if it had been wine. He came close to him and put his hand upon his shoulder. ‘You are quite right to do that,’ he murmured. ‘Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.'”

WILDE (2013), via the Jardins d’Ecrivains website

I’ve also been intending for a long time to try more perfumes from the niche company Jardins d’Écrivains, whose main collection includes a fragrance named after this most witty and stylish of writers. This fragrance even includes a carnation note, a nod to Wilde’s trend-setting gesture of wearing a green dianthus in his lapel…and that accessory’s 1890s connotation as a subtle signal between gay men who could “read” it.

(And you thought green carnations were just a St. Patrick’s Day gimmick…!?)

You can find more info about Jardins d’Ecrivains’ Wilde fragrance here, and a review of it by Chemist in a Bottle here. And Aromatica Poetica posted about Oscar Wilde, with another really beautiful fragrance-related passage from Dorian Grey, here.

Wishing you all a beautiful March day, whether you’re celebrating Irish heritage or not.

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