What inspires artistic genius? Some proclaim God, others beauty, many believe instanity, and a few say….mind altering drinks. One cannot but notice the companionship of alchohol with music, literature, and poetry. During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, Absinthe was the beverage of choice for many prominent artists, and was at the center of the lives of such famous minds as Degas, Manet, Gauguin, and Poe. Le Feé Verte (its pseudonym, meaning green fairy) while immensly popular at one point, was prohibited because of its dangerous side effects and “immoral” connotations. However, its sudden come back in Europe and the U.S. has only reaffirmed its symbol as a drink for artistic revolution and just plain drunkeness.
The history of Absinthe saw its beginning as a medicinal herb and a transition into a popular drink. Hippocrates perscribed soaked wormwood to his patients for rheumatism and menstrual pain. However,in the sixteenth century, Dr. Pierre Ordinaire distilled Wormwood to its liquid form and what we now know as Absinthe. In 1797, Henry-Pernod was the first person to manufacture and distribute the drink to cafes across France. By the nineteenth century, Absinthe became madly popular in continental european night life. Val-de-Traviers in Switzerland and Pontarlier in France were manufacturing powerhouses of La Feé Verte. Among the Bohemian community, artists such as Van Gogh and Manet were known for making it the subject of their art and imbibing it in large quantities. Ernest Hemingway, an Absinthe connesieur, explained that “One cap of it took the place of the evening of papers, of all old evenings in cafes, of all chestnut trees th...
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...utionary Bohemian artists back at the turn of century .
Art and substance are sometimes concomitant. One verdant drink, Absinthe, is a landmark to an era long passed among the modern age’s most brilliant artistic minds. Although originally used for medicinal treatment, it was consumed ravenously by such famous individuals such as Hemingway, Van Gogh, Degas in Parisian cafes. However, the rise of the prohibitionist movement and fear of its narcotic effects led to its ban across western Europe in 1915. Nevertheless, its resurging popularity stands as a testament to a yearning of the radicalism and change at the turn of the century.
1. Informative Site on Absinthe, http://www.sepulchritude.com/chapelperilous/absinthe/absinthe.html
2. Drug Library, The Vaults of Erowid, http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/absinthe/absinthe.shtml
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