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A Closer Look at "The Quare in the Square"
By Gretchen Gales
If I can ever get over my severe fear of flying, there's plenty of places I want to go. More specifically, Europe (I know, super original). On my tour of Europe, I plan to stop in Dublin to meet Oscar Wilde.
Before you send me off to an asylum, I do know that Oscar Wilde has been dead for over 100 years. I’m talking about his statue in Merrion Square. Often referred to as "The Queer with the Leer" and "The Quare in the Square," it was unveiled in 1997 by Wilde's grandson Merlin Holland and has since been sprawled out atop a rock directly facing his childhood home.
Wilde was known to relish the attention he received and often made bold statements with his outlandish comments, fashion, and most notably, his trials towards the end of his life involving an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of the 9th Marquess of Queensbury. Today, his plays, poetry, and sole novel are highly popular and are still taught and read to this day.
So it was only appropriate to create a memorial statue that preserves that same feisty, snarky spirit.
Danny Osbourne, the artist of the statue, made certain to reflect Wilde’s “colorful character” (Dunn 228). No part of the statue is painted (as I had originally thought), but instead uses a mixture of rare stones and materials to create the eye-catching memorial.
Wilde’s pants are made of Norwegian blue pearl granite and the socks and shoes of black Indian granite. His hands and head are sculpted from white porcelain. The jacket he dons is made of two eye-popping colors; a dark green jade and salmon pink lining and trimming made of the scarce Thulite stone, which is only found in central Norway (Dunn 288).
But the most noticeable portion of the statue is the smug grin carved into his porcelain face, summed up by a visitor as “[Wilde] daring you to have a go at him” (Dunn 228).
Wilde is remembered for his witty epigraphs and written works. But many are completely unaware that Oscar Wilde was gay. Even contemporary youth in the LGBT community do not immediately associate Oscar Wilde as a prominent LGBT historical figure.
In Thomas R. Dunn’s “‘The Quare in the Square’: Queer Memory, Sensibilities, and Oscar Wilde,” Dunn emphasizes how Wilde is not as widely associated as gay and closely examines the statue in Dublin. He indicates that “Wilde’s legacy does not resonate as strongly for an emerging [LGBT] generation….reading Wilde to become to come to terms with one’s sexuality has become increasingly rare” (Dunn 214). Instead, Dunn notes that “[Wilde] is displaced on lists of gay heroes by more contemporary, diverse, and relatable figures like Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, George Takei, RuPaul, and Laverne Cox” (Dunn 214).
But I don’t believe Wilde would have been disappointed.
In the uncensored manuscript of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde makes his own wish for the world’s future. Through the eyes of Dorian Gray, Wilde envisioned “…a world in which things would have fresh shapes and colors, and be changed, or have other secrets, a world in which the past would have little or no place, or survive, at any rate, in no conscious form of obligation or regret, the remembrance even of joy having its bitterness, and the memories of pleasure their pain” (Wilde 163). In other words, he longed for a time when everyone could be themselves. I believe Wilde would be content with just being remembered as a writer. Being gay was only a part of his identity, and one aspect of your identity does not define the whole.
Though there’s still plenty of work to do, we’re beginning to see the kind of time Wilde longed for. If you had to ask me what the statue was saying, I’d imagine it’d be saying, “I told you so.”
Dunn, Thomas R. “‘The Quare in the Square’: Queer Memory, Sensibilities, and Oscar Wilde.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 01 Oct 2014: 214, 228. Print.
Wilde, Oscar. Ed. Nicholas Frankel. The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray. Boston: Harvard UP/Belknap P, 2012.
#Real #StPatricksDay #OscarWilde #Dublin #Irish #IrishWriters #Ireland #Statue #QueerWithTheLeer #QuareInTheSquare
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