Bohemianism


Bohemianism

The term bohemian, of French origin, was first used in the English language in the nineteenth century [First occurrence in this sense in English, 1848 ("OED").] to describe the untraditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or antiestablishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through non-marital sexual relations, frugality, and/or voluntary poverty.

The term emerged in France in the 1800s when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class gypsy neighbourhoods. The term "Bohemian" reflects a belief, widely held in France at the time, that the Gypsies had come from Bohemia.fact|date=July 2008

Origin of term

Literary "Bohemians" were associated in the French imagination with roving Gypsies (called "bohemians" because they were falsely believed to originate from Bohemia [Entry "bohemian" at [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bohemian Online Etymology Dictionary.] It also mentions another possibility - the term may be related to Bohemia via Bohemian religious heretics.] [Entry "bohemian" in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company.] ), outsiders apart from conventional society and untroubled by its disapproval.fact|date=July 2008 The term carries a connotation of arcane enlightenment (the opposite of 'Philistines'), and also carries a less frequently intended, pejorative connotation of carelessness about personal hygiene and marital orthodoxy. The Spanish gypsy in the French opera " Carmen" set in Seville, is referred to as a "bohémienne" in Meilhac and Halévy's libretto (1875).

:"The term 'Bohemian' has come to be very commonly accepted in our day as the description of a certain kind of literary gypsy, no matter in what language he speaks, or what city he inhabits .... A Bohemian is simply an artist or "littérateur" who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art." ("Westminster Review", 1862 [Noted at [http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bohemian Online Etymology Dictionary.] ] )

Henri Murger's collection of short stories, "Scènes de la Vie de Bohème" ("Scenes of Bohemian Life"), published in 1845, was written to glorify and legitimise Bohemia. [cite web
url=http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255/bohem/tscenes.html
title=Scenes de la Vie de Boheme
publisher=www.mtholyoke.edu
accessdate=2008-04-22
last=
first=
] Ideas from Murger's collection formed the theme of Giacomo Puccini's opera "La bohème" (1896). Puccini's work, in turn, became Jonathan Larson's source material for the musical he created, "Rent", later a feature film of the same name. Like Puccini, Larson explores a Bohemian enclave in a dense urban area, in this case, New York City at the end of the 20th century. The show features a song, "La Vie Bohème", which celebrates postmodern Bohemian culture.

In English, "Bohemian" in this sense was initially popularized in William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, "Vanity Fair", published in 1848, although public perceptions of the alternative life-styles supposedly led by artists were chiefly moulded by George du Maurier's highly romanticised best-selling novel of Bohemian culture "Trilby" (1894). The novel purports to outline the fortunes of three expatriate English artists, their Irish model, and two very colourful Eastern European musicians, in the artist's quarter of Paris.

Academics and theorists have been slow to diagnose Bohemianism as against the more abrasive, and politically non-conformist Avant-gardism. The most serious study of the tendency has been "Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900–1939" (2002) by the English writer Virginia Nicholson (granddaughter of the Bloomsbury aesthete Clive Bell and his wife, the English painter Vanessa Bell). Her work systematically analysed the Bohemian lifestyle led by a broad and diverse wave of artists, writers and musicians over the early- to mid-twentieth century, showing that they were indeed unified via a set of commonly-held attitudes towards money, sex and relationships, child-rearing, beauty, clothing and personal presentation, cuisine, personal cleanliness, travel and social mores. [cite book|author=Nicholson, Virginia|title=Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900–1939|publisher=Viking|year=2002|id=ISBN 0-670-88966-0]

People

The term has become associated with various artistic or academic communities and is used as a generalized adjective describing such people, environs, or situations: "bohemian" ("boho"—informal) is defined in "The American College Dictionary" as "a person with artistic or intellectual tendencies, who lives and acts with no regard for conventional rules of behavior."

Many prominent European and American figures of the last 150 years belonged to the bohemian counterculture, and any comprehensive 'list of bohemians' would be tediously long. Bohemianism has been approved of by some bourgeois writers such as Honoré de Balzac, but most conservative cultural critics do not condone bohemian lifestyles.

New York Times columnist David Brooks contends that much of the cultural ethos of upper-class Americans is Bohemian-derived, coining the paradoxical term "Bourgeois Bohemians" or "Bobos." [cite book|author=Brooks, David|title=Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There|publisher=Simon and Schuster|year=2001|id=ISBN 0-684-85378-7]

"The Bombshell Manual of Style" author, Laren Stover, breaks down the Bohemian into five distinct mind-sets/styles in "Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge". The Bohemian is "not easily classified like species of birds," writes Stover, noting that there are crossovers and hybrids. The five types are: Nouveau (bohemians with money who attempt to join traditional bohemianism with contemporary culture), Gypsy (drifters, neo-hippies, and others with nostalgia for previous, romanticized eras), Beat (also drifters, but non-materialist and art-focused), Zen ("post-beat," focus on spirituality rather than art) and Dandy (no money, but try to appear as if they have it by expensive or rare items - such as alcohol). [cite book|author=Stover, Laren|title=Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the edge|publisher=Bulfinch Press=2004|id=ISBN 0-8212-2890-0]

In the United States, the bohemian impulse can be seen in the 1960s hippie counterculture (which was in turn informed by the Beat generation via writers such as William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac).

Rainbow Gatherings may be seen as another contemporary worldwide expression of the bohemian impulse. [cite book|author=Niman, Michael I.|title=People of the Rainbow: A Nomadic Utopia|publisher=The University of Tennessee Press|year=1997|id=ISBN 0-87049-988-2]

Bohemian communities in the past

By extension, "Bohemia" meant any place where one could live and work cheaply, and behave unconventionally; a community of free souls beyond the pale of respectable society. Several cities and neighborhoods came to be associated with bohemianism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries:

In Europe: Montmartre and Montparnasse in Paris; Chelsea, Bedford Park, Camden Town, Fitzrovia and Soho in London; Stroud in Britain; Schwabing in Munich; Skadarlija in Belgrade; Lavapiés in Madrid; Isola and Colonne di San Lorenzo in Milan.

In the Americas: Greenwich Village, the East Village and Chelsea in New York City; Provincetown, Massachusetts; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Carmel-by-the-Sea and Venice Beach, California; North Beach, Haight-Ashbury, and the Mission District in San Francisco; Logan Square and Wicker Park in Chicago; the French Quarter in New Orleans; Ipanema and Leblon in Rio de Janeiro; Kensington Market in Toronto [Scowen, Peter. "At the intersection of immigrant and hippie", "The Globe and Mail", 10 November 2007. [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071109.wflorida10/BNStory/Front/ Full text of article] ] ; Coyoacán and Condesa in Mexico City.

One of the ironies of these once bohemian communities in the United States is their tendency towards rapid gentrification and the commercialization and decay of the bohemian culture that provided the initial attractive character of the community. [cite book|author=Mele, Christopher|title=Selling the Lower East Side|publisher=Univ of Minnesota|year=2000|id=ISBN 0-8166-3182-4] [cite book|author=Lloyd, Richard|title=Neo-Bohemia|publisher=Routledge|year=2006|id=ISBN 0-415-95182-8] [cite journal|author=Cash, Stephanie|title=“Landlords put a squeeze on Brooklyn artists.”|journal=Art in America|volume=89|issue=3|pages=39–40]

ee also

;Related terms
*Avant-garde
*Art colony
*Bohemian style
*Counterculture
*Literary Kicks
*"Metropia"
*Punk subculture
*Simple living
*Slumming
*Squatter
*Subculture;Related cultures or movements
*Beat generation
*Beatnik
*Merry Pranksters
*Dandy
*Goth
*Hipster
*Hippie
*Indie
*Punk
*Diggers

Notes

References

*citebook|author=Easton, Malcolm|title=Artists and Writers in Paris. The Bohemian Idea, 1803–1867|location=London|publisher=Arnold|year=1964|edition=ASIN B0016A7CJA
*citebook|author=Graña, César|title=Bohemian versus Bourgeois: French Society and the French Man of Letters in the Nineteenth Century|location=New York|publisher=Basic Books|year=1964|isbn=0465007368
*citebook|author=Stansell, Christine|title=American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century|publisher=Henry Holt & Company|year=2000|isbn=0805048472
*citebook|author=Wilson, Elizabeth|title=Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts|publisher=Tauris Parke Paperbacks|year=2002|isbn=1860647820

External links

* [http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/boheme/evolution.html Bohemianism and Counter-Culture]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bohemianism — Bo*he mi*an*ism, n. The characteristic conduct or methods of a Bohemian. [Modern] [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bohemianism — index nonconformity Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Bohemianism — Bohemian ► NOUN 1) a person from Bohemia, a region of the Czech Republic. 2) a socially unconventional person, especially an artist or writer. ► ADJECTIVE 1) relating to Bohemia. 2) socially unconventional. DERIVATIVES Bohemianism noun …   English terms dictionary

  • bohemianism — noun Usage: often capitalized Date: 1858 the unconventional way of life of bohemians …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • bohemianism — See bohemian. * * * …   Universalium

  • Bohemianism — noun a Bohemian lifestyle …   Wiktionary

  • bohemianism — bo he·mi·an·ism || nɪzÉ™m n. nonconformism, practice of living an unconventional lifestyle …   English contemporary dictionary

  • bohemianism —    Originally, the alternative lifestyle of the avant garde creative community of the Romantic movement during the nineteenth century, especially characterized by anti bourgeois and anti intellectual attitude. This way of life was thought to have …   Glossary of Art Terms

  • bohemianism — bo·he·mi·an·ism …   English syllables

  • bohemianism — noun conduct characteristic of a bohemian • Hypernyms: ↑behavior, ↑behaviour, ↑conduct, ↑doings …   Useful english dictionary


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