The Three Stages of Absinthe Drinking

Cafe Royal

Oscar Wilde on the effects of absinthe drinking. I wonder what brands of absinthe were served at the Cafe Royal in the high days of real absinthe?Anyway it seems that Oscar was actually floating out of the Cafe Royal – as he describes the tulip heads brushing against his shins. However, perhaps he wishes to suggest that the flowers were only just sprouting from the floor as the impatient waiter poured water from the can. The watering-can is even perhaps an interesting metaphor for the time honoured fashion of pouring water into absinthe? The passage seems to be very precise concerning the three stages of absinthe drinking:

At Oscar Wilde told me-in all his great heavy drawl-of the three stages of Absinthe drinking. The first stage is like ordinary drinking, the second when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful and curious things. One night I was left sitting, drinking alone, and very late in the Cafe Royal, and I had just got into this third stage when a waiter came in with a green apron and began to pile the chairs on the tables. “Time to go, sir,” he called out to me. Then he brought in a watering-can and began to water the floor.“Time’s up, sir. I am afraid you must go now,sir”“Waiter, are you watering the flowers?” I asked, but he didn’t answer. “What are you favourite flowers,waiter” I asked again. “Now,sir, I must really ask you to go now, time’s up,” he said firmly.“I’m sure that tulips are your favourite flowers,” I said, and as I got up and passed into the street I felt-the-heavy-tulip-heads-brushing against my shins”

Absinthe and Oscar by John Fothergill

Did you know?

(i)The Oraon tribals of West Bengal, India, were reported to smoke leaves of the thujone-containing (Uniyal et al. 1985) Artemisia nilagirica (Clarke) Pamp. as an entheogen (Pal & Jain 1989) An entheogen is a substance with psychoactive properties often used in a religious or shamanic context.

(ii) The French define absinthe as hallucinogène:


9 responses to “The Three Stages of Absinthe Drinking

  1. Interesting that you should bring this up. One of the few historical accounts of absinthe causing hallucinations (the tulips) was written in 1949 and there is no evidence from Wilde or any other writer it actually happened.

  2. 🙄

    Yeah right.

    It is not “one of the few historical accounts” of absinthe hallucinations. There are plenty buried in French medical papers of the era, that you choose to label (and disrespect) as fake too.

    John Fothergill was making it up as well was he? It doesn’t sound like it to me – but that fits your agenda, doesn’t it? All science that opposes your new commercial perspective is outdated & any suggestion that isn’t “on message” from real absinthe drinkers of the Belle Epoque is made up.

    You have a habit of accusing others of being liars – I presume you also level that accusation at Fothergill now?

    The artistic portrayl of the Green Fairy, as methaphor for the absinthe effect, is also romantic nonsense according to you I suppose.

  3. It’s written 50 years after the event, at second hand, by a colourful hotelier and humorous raconteur who published two volumes of amusing anecdotes about his life in the hotel business in the English countryside.

    Here are the details, and scans of the original text:

    The incident is not referred to even in passing by Wilde himself in any of his published works, or in any of his private corresspondence, nor is it mentioned at all by anyone else who knew him, including Frank Harris and all his original biographers. There is no source for it whatsover other than Fothergill’s book of after-dinner tales written haf a century later. Other stories in the book include one about a lady who checked in with four elephants – I’m sure that happened as well, exactly as he told it.

  4. So you an expert on Oscar Wilde now are you?

    Unfortunately Richard Ellman is dead, but I’ll take you up on the challenge and write to a few living experts on Wilde and check your version of events.

    In any case – the incident is hardly worthy of note by Wilde’s comtemporaries. It is worthy of note if are trying to get rid of “the elephant in the room”(i)

    What about this mysterious “Swiss writer” who descibed Dr. Ordinaire – he wasn’t a fantasist then?

    (i) idiomatic description of thujone (circa 2007)

  5. HAven’t you already admitted to me in the past that you have NEVER hallucinated when drinking absinthe? And don’t you always pride yourself on drinking ‘high thujone’ stuff? If there was any weight to this argument, wouldn’t you have seen some of its effects?

    Or wouldn’t I or Oxy have seen them, since we both drink pre-ban absinthe on a regular basis?

  6. HAve I ? Source please.

    I’ve never tried 330 which I would say is high thujone and in the region of the 260mg/l described by Dr. Arnold

    I or Oxy have seen them, since we both drink pre-ban absinthe on a regular basis?

    What expensive tatses you two have. What happens to thujone molecules over a period of a 100 years? No doubt you can cite a source that proves that the terpene is as pristine as the day it was bottled?

  7. “HAve I ? Source please.”
    Well, if your site had a search function, it would be pretty easy to find.

    So, are you now saying that you HAVE hallucinated while only drinking absinthe? I’d like to see a clear and concise response again here in this post. That way, I’ll make sure to take a screenshot of it so I don’t lose it again.

    “What happens to thujone molecules over a period of a 100 years?”
    You read the same things I do, so I’m sure you’ve seen it. I see no need to spend my time finding a link to a page that you undoubtedly have already read.

  8. My fault. It was Dr. Absinthe that admitted he’s never hallucinated, back in April.

    So, how about you? What brand have you hallucinated with, and how much of it did you drink?

  9. “…but I’ll take you up on the challenge and write to a few living experts on Wilde and check your version of events.”

    That’s the spirit!
    Please be certain to post their responses here.

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