Dublin -Wilde Country (2012)

Dublin -Wilde Country (2012)

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He is stretched out on a rock, his lips curled in a characteristic sardonic smile. His wisecracks are strewn like graffiti all over the rock as though he had just scattered them.  Oscar Wilde reclines languorously under a verdant canopy, undiminished by age and untarnished by the scandals that blighted his life in Dublin and surprise, surprise, unsullied by bird-droppings! The author of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest” is anything but earnest here – casual and carefree, sprawled out in this corner of the park in Merrion Square. Arguably the greatest of literary figures that Dublin has produced, this statue captures the very essence of Oscar Wilde’s witty, wry personality. Merrion Square has become a literary pilgrimage destination for visitors to Dublin today. For me, it is a delightful walk down memory lane when Oscar’s thought-provoking plays used to be part of my school curriculum.

Until you come to Dublin, you have little idea how many literary giants this city has produced. Usually, one thinks James Joyce, that too because of the title of his book, a collection of short stories on Dubliners. Few of us have actually managed to plod through Ulyssus. Yet, James Joyce is the pride of Ireland so much so that there is a separate museum dedicated only to his life and works.

I skip the James Joyce Museum in favour of the diverse Dublin Writers’ Museum. It displays snippets from the writings of the myriad literary figures that Ireland has produced along with a brief history of the author himself. Through its association with the Irish Writers’ Centre it provides a link with living writers and the international literary scene. On a national level it acts as a centre, simultaneously pulling together the strands of Irish literature and complementing the smaller, more detailed museums devoted to individuals like Joyce, Shaw, Yeats and Pearse.

Like most men of letters from this part of the world, Oscar Wilde went to Trinity College in Dublin, mesmerised and floored is fellow students and faculty with his sharp intellect and wit, captivated the girls with his flamboyance and led quite a colourful life until his homosexuality ran him aground in an era of prudery. Disgraced and humiliated and even forced to serve a prison sentence, Oscar never really recovered from this ignominious experience and died a bitter man.  

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