Edgar Allen Poe
I have never understood the reasoning behind “celebrity scents.” Creating a perfume that doesn’t reek of death or chemicals is clearly a rare skill, otherwise the air would never be thick with Axe body spray and pearberry lotion (seriously, what the fuck is a pearberry?)? So why would we assume that Rihanna or Katy Perry have any semblance of talent at perfume-making, or even (more likely) that they can be trusted to hire some one who does? I say leave it up to the pros, and be wary of smells “inspired” by anyone you don’t associate with classic beauty and style (That Britney Spears spritz smells like sweet-tarts that somebody pissed on!)
Well, the folks at Paddywax Candles disagree with me, and have decided to take celebrity scents a step further with their “Library Collection,” a line of scented candles “inspired” by famous literary figures. And who doesn’t want to smell their home to smell like a famous literary figure? There’s Emily Dickinson, a little lavender and cassis number named for the notorious shut-in. They even included her famous quote, “Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell!” I suppose it’s for burning when you don’t want company?
There’s an Edgar Allan Poe, too! What does marriage to your 13-year-old first cousin (Poe was 27 at the time) smell like? Cardamom, absynthe and sandalwood, apparently! (I’d have thought Poe’s signature scent would have been closer to gin.)
And then there’s the famously witty Oscar Wilde, whose slow, grueling death in a forced labor camp smells of cedarwood, thyme, and basil! While I cannot find the quote used to commemorate Wilde, I don’t believe it’s my personal favorite of his words, written shortly after his imprisonment (and essentially, long-running execution) for homosexuality:
When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.
That one might be a little much for a candle, I suppose…
Look, I love all these authors, and actually, these candles probably smell great, but can we please refrain from reducing some of the greatest achievements in the English language to the shallow lifestyle of celebrity endorsement? They all smell like dusty bones and earthworms now, anyways.