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Word of Mouth - Absinthe; the drink of artists

Word of Mouth // Education // Feb. 7, 2017

Welcome to part two of three episodes about the infamous drink absinthe which began its life in a small village near Neuchatel in Switzerland in 1792.

When mixed with water poured over sugar the drink turned green and set free the green fairy who according to legend has the power to steal the talent of the brilliant and make geniuses of mediocrities.

Absinthe was the most popular drink in France during the second half of the 19th century and it was cheap. It was the drink of poets, painters and writers. Baudelaire, Verlaine, Guy de Maupassant, Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, even Earnest Hemingway credited some of their literary success to the drink.

For me my glory is a Humble ephemeral absinthe - Paul Marie Verlaine, Poet. (1844 - 1896)
Let me be mad, mad with the madness of absinthe. 
The wildest, most luxurious madness in the world. - Marie Corelli, Novelist. (1855 - 1924)

Absinthe drinkers were painted by Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, Degas, Gaugin and Toulouse Lautrec.

Lautrec liked to kick start his days with an earthquake – a combination of absinthe and brandy. His hollow walking stick carried half a litre of his preferred spirit. The drink and syphilis destroyed him. After a spell in a lunatic asylum he died aged just 36.

Even in ruin and in degradation it remains a thing apart: its victims wear a ghastly aureole all their own, and in their peculiar hell yet gloat with a sinister perversion of pride that they are not as other men. - Alistair Crowley, Occultist and Painter. (1875 - 1947)
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. - Oscar Wilde, Playwright, Novelist & Poet. (1854 - 1900)

While absinthe killed brain cells with great efficiency it shaped Symbolism, Surrealism, Modernism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Cubism.

Hear a new episode of Word of Mouth every Tuesday morning at 10:40am on the Mid Morning Mix.

Image: Viktor Oliva. Der Absinthtrinker, 1901

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