Mighty Red Pen

December 6, 2007

The return of the green fairy

Filed under: Pop culture — mighty red pen @ 6:51 pm

In case you were wondering what to get for that Hemingway wannabe or Oscar Wilde aficionado on your list, you might want to know that absinthe, the breakfast of literary champions, is making a comeback.

Absinthe has been effectively banned in the US since 1912, but its reputation precedes it: It inspires visions, it drives you crazy; it makes you paint masterpieces, it makes you kill people – so the stories go. . . . Nicknamed “la Fee Verte” (the green fairy), it went on to become a favorite tipple of fin de siecle France, featured in the works of Picasso, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Van Gogh. They drank it frequently, as did poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Verlaine. Hemingway and his characters also famously imbibed.

As Oscar Wilde said, “After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.”

Sounds, um, awesome. There’s quite an impressive mythology built up around the stuff, which sounds like it’ll really put some hair on your chest. If that’s what you want.

4 Comments »

  1. Hmmm, does absinthe make the heart grow fonder?

    Comment by gadfly — December 7, 2007 @ 11:13 am | Reply

  2. Sadly, the version being sold now lacks the hallucinogenic ingredient — seriously. Evidently it causes brain damage. Oh, come on, people. What a small price for art, no?

    Comment by David — December 7, 2007 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  3. Yeah, I’ve actually had absinthe and David is right, it’s not the same as it was back in the day, when you know, it was a POISON. Shame.

    Comment by Green Fairy — December 10, 2007 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  4. Why not add one more stigma for the sake of art? Poverty, flightiness, bad tempers, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, reclusiveness – what’s a little brain damage?

    Comment by Shawn — December 13, 2007 @ 10:51 pm | Reply


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