Bohemianism

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Bohemian (or Lise the Bohemian), 1868, oil on canvas, Berlin, Germany: Alte Nationalgalerie Pierre-Auguste Renoir - En ete (La Bohemienne).jpg
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Bohemian (or Lise the Bohemian), 1868, oil on canvas, Berlin, Germany: Alte Nationalgalerie

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people and with few permanent ties. It involves musical, artistic, literary or spiritual pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may or may not be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

Contents

This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the 19th century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities. [1]

Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed through free love, frugality, and—in some cases—simple living or voluntary poverty. A more economically privileged, wealthy, or even aristocratic bohemian circle is sometimes referred to as haute bohème [2] (literally "high Bohemia"). [3]

An anti-establishment view or belief is one which stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of a society. The term was first used in the modern sense in 1958, by the British magazine New Statesman to refer to its political and social agenda. Antiestablishmentarianism is an expression for such a political philosophy.

Free love is a social movement that accepts all forms of love. The Free Love movement's initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery. It claimed that such issues were the concern of the people involved, and no one else.

Frugality personality trait

Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.

The term bohemianism emerged in France in the early 19th century when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, Romani neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who were mistakenly thought to have reached France in the 15th century via Bohemia (the western part of modern Czech Republic). [4]

Romani people ethnic group living mostly in Europe and the Americas

The Romani, colloquially known as Gypsies or Roma, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally itinerant, living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from the northern Indian subcontinent, from the Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab regions of modern-day India.

Romani people in France, generally known in spoken French as gitans, tsiganes or manouches, are an ethnic group that originated in Northern India. Exact numbers of Romani people in France are unknown—estimates vary from 20,000 to 400,000. According to these estimates, least 12,000 Romani live in unofficial urban camps throughout the country, with French authorities often attempting to close them. In 2009, the French government sent more than 10,000 foreign Romani back to Romania and Bulgaria.

Bohemia Historical region in the Czech Republic

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

Origins

European bohemianism

Literary bohemians were associated in the French imagination with roving Romani people (called Bohémiens because they were believed to have arrived from Bohemia [4] [5] ), outsiders apart from conventional society and untroubled by its disapproval. The term carries a connotation of arcane enlightenment (the opposite of Philistines), and carries a less frequently intended, pejorative connotation of carelessness about personal hygiene and marital fidelity.

Western esotericism Range of related philosophical ideas and movements that have developed in the Western world

Western esotericism, also known as esotericism, esoterism, and sometimes the Western mystery tradition, is a term under which scholars have categorised a wide range of loosely related ideas and movements which have developed within Western society. These ideas and currents are united by the fact that they are largely distinct both from orthodox Judeo-Christian religion and from Enlightenment rationalism. Esotericism has pervaded various forms of Western philosophy, religion, pseudoscience, art, literature, and music, continuing to affect intellectual ideas and popular culture.

Philistinism

In the fields of philosophy and æsthetics, the derogatory term philistinism describes the 'manners, habits, and character' of a person whose anti-intellectual social attitude undervalues and despises art and beauty, spirituality and intellect. A philistine person is a man or a woman of smugly narrow mind, and of conventional morality whose materialistic views and tastes indicate a lack of and an indifference to cultural and æsthetic values.

The title character in Carmen (1876), a French opera set in the Spanish city of Seville, is referred to as a "bohémienne" in Meilhac and Halévy's libretto. Her signature aria declares love itself to be a "gypsy child" (enfant de Bohême), going where it pleases and obeying no laws.

<i>Carmen</i> opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet

Carmen[kaʁ.mɛn] is an opera in four acts by French composer Georges Bizet. The libretto was written by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. The opera was first performed by the Opéra-Comique in Paris on 3 March 1875, where its breaking of conventions shocked and scandalized its first audiences.

Seville Place in Andalusia, Spain

Seville is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville, Spain. It is situated on the plain of the river Guadalquivir. The inhabitants of the city are known as sevillanos or hispalenses, after the Roman name of the city, Hispalis. Seville has a municipal population of about 690,000 as of 2016, and a metropolitan population of about 1.5 million, making it the fourth-largest city in Spain and the 30th most populous municipality in the European Union. Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. The Seville harbour, located about 80 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. Seville is also the hottest major metropolitan area in the geographical Southwestern Europe, with summer average high temperatures of above 35 °C (95 °F).

Habanera (music or dance of Havana, Spanish: La Habana) is the popular name for "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" ("Love is a rebellious bird"), an aria from Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen. It is the entrance aria of the title character, a mezzo-soprano role, in scene 5 of the first act. It is based on a descending chromatic scale followed by variants of the same phrase in first the minor and then the major key, corresponding to the vicissitudes of love expressed in the lyrics. Despite the change in mode there is no actual modulation in the aria, and the implied pedal point D is maintained throughout; nevertheless, there is no sense of monotony or stasis. The vocal range covers D4 to F5 with a tessitura from D4 to D5.

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 [4] )

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 legitimize Bohemia. [6] Murger's collection formed the basis of Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème (1896).

In England, bohemian in this sense initially was popularised in William Makepeace Thackeray's novel, Vanity Fair , published in 1848. Public perceptions of the alternative lifestyles supposedly led by artists were further molded by George du Maurier's romanticized best-selling novel of Bohemian culture Trilby (1894). The novel outlines the fortunes of three expatriate English artists, an Irish model, and two colourful Central European musicians, in the artist quarter of Paris.

In Spanish literature, the Bohemian impulse can be seen in Ramón del Valle-Inclán's play Luces de Bohemia , published in 1920.

In his song La Bohème, Charles Aznavour described the Bohemian lifestyle in Montmartre. The film Moulin Rouge! (2001) also reflects the Bohemian lifestyle in Montmartre at the turn of the 20th century.

American bohemianism

Bohemian Grove during the summer Hi-Jinks, circa 1911-1916 Bohemian Grove during the summer Hi-Jinks, circa 1911-16..jpg
Bohemian Grove during the summer Hi-Jinks, circa 1911–1916

In the 1850s, aesthetic bohemians began arriving in the United States. [7] In New York City in 1857, a group of 15 to 20 young, cultured journalists flourished as self-described bohemians until the American Civil War began in 1861. [8] This group gathered at a German bar on Broadway called Pfaff's beer cellar. [9] Members included their leader Henry Clapp, Jr., Ada Clare, Walt Whitman, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, and actress Adah Isaacs Menken. [9]

Similar groups in other cities were broken up as well by the Civil War and reporters spread out to report on the conflict. During the war, correspondents began to assume the title bohemian, and newspapermen in general took up the moniker. Bohemian became synonymous with newspaper writer. [8] In 1866, war correspondent Junius Henri Browne, who wrote for the New York Tribune and Harper's Magazine , described bohemian journalists such as he was, as well as the few carefree women and lighthearted men he encountered during the war years. [10]

San Francisco journalist Bret Harte first wrote as "The Bohemian" in The Golden Era in 1861, with this persona taking part in many satirical doings, the lot published in his book Bohemian Papers in 1867. Harte wrote, "Bohemia has never been located geographically, but any clear day when the sun is going down, if you mount Telegraph Hill, you shall see its pleasant valleys and cloud-capped hills glittering in the West ..." [11]

Mark Twain included himself and Charles Warren Stoddard in the bohemian category in 1867. [8] By 1872, when a group of journalists and artists who gathered regularly for cultural pursuits in San Francisco were casting about for a name, the term bohemian became the main choice, and the Bohemian Club was born. [12] Club members who were established and successful, pillars of their community, respectable family men, redefined their own form of bohemianism to include people like them who were bons vivants, sportsmen, and appreciators of the fine arts. [11] Club member and poet George Sterling responded to this redefinition:

Any good mixer of convivial habits considers he has a right to be called a bohemian. But that is not a valid claim. There are two elements, at least, that are essential to Bohemianism. The first is devotion or addiction to one or more of the Seven Arts; the other is poverty. Other factors suggest themselves: for instance, I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life; as unconventional, and, though this is debatable, as dwellers in a city large enough to have the somewhat cruel atmosphere of all great cities.

Parry, 2005 [13] ).

Despite his views, Sterling associated with the Bohemian Club, and caroused with artist and industrialist alike at the Bohemian Grove. [13]

Canadian composer Oscar Ferdinand Telgmann and poet George Frederick Cameron wrote the song "The Bohemian" in the 1889 opera Leo, the Royal Cadet . [14]

The impish American writer and Bohemian Club member Gelett Burgess, who coined the word blurb, supplied this description of the amorphous place called Bohemia:

Gelett Burgess drew this fanciful "Map of Bohemia" for The Lark, March 1, 1896 (see also The Winter's Tale SS The seacoast of Bohemia) Gelett Burgess - Map of Bohemia 1896.jpg
Gelett Burgess drew this fanciful "Map of Bohemia" for The Lark, March 1, 1896 (see also The Winter's Tale § The seacoast of Bohemia)

To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art—this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy. ...

His faults are more commonly those of self-indulgence, thoughtlessness, vanity and procrastination, and these usually go hand-in-hand with generosity, love and charity; for it is not enough to be one’s self in Bohemia, one must allow others to be themselves, as well. ...

What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.

Ayloh, 1902 [15] )

In New York City, pianist Rafael Joseffy formed an organization of musicians in 1907 with friends, such as Rubin Goldmark, called "The Bohemians (New York Musicians' Club)". [16] Near Times Square Joel Renaldo presided over "Joel’s Bohemian Refreshery" where the Bohemian crowd gathered from before the turn of the 20th century until Prohibition began to bite. [17] [18] [19] [20] Jonathan Larson's musical Rent , and specifically the song "La Vie Boheme," portrayed the postmodern Bohemian culture of New York in the late 20th century.

In May 2014, a story on NPR suggested, after a century and a half, some Bohemian ideal of living in poverty for the sake of art had fallen in popularity among the latest generation of American artists. In the feature, a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design related "her classmates showed little interest in living in garrets and eating ramen noodles." [21]

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 19th and 20th centuries belonged to the bohemian subculture, and any comprehensive "list of bohemians" would be tediously long. Bohemianism has been approved of by some bourgeois writers such as Honoré de Balzac [ citation needed ], but most conservative cultural critics do not condone bohemian lifestyles [ citation needed ].

In Bohemian Manifesto: a Field Guide to Living on the Edge, author Laren Stover, breaks down the bohemian into five distinct mind-sets or styles, as follows:

Aimée Crocker, an American world traveler, adventuress, heiress, and mystic, was dubbed the queen of Bohemia in the 1910s by the world press for living an uninhibited, sexually liberated, and aggressively non-conformist life in San Francisco, New York, and Paris. She spent the bulk of her fortune inherited from her father Edwin B. Crocker, a railroad tycoon and art collector, on traveling all over the world (lingering the longest in Hawaii, India, Japan, and China) and partying with famous artists of her time such as Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, the Barrymores, Enrico Caruso, Isadora Duncan, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, and Rudolph Valentino. Crocker had countless affairs and married five times in five different decades of her life, each man being in his twenties. She was famous for her tattoos and pet snakes and was reported to have started the first Buddhist colony in Manhattan. Spiritually inquisitive, Crocker had a ten-year affair with occultist Aleister Crowley and was a devoted student of Hatha Yoga [ citation needed ].

Maxwell Bodenheim, an American poet and novelist, was known as the king of Greenwich Village Bohemians during the 1920s and his writing brought him international fame during the Jazz Age.

Former brewery gone artist center in Prenzelberg Prenzlauer Berg Pfefferberg-001.JPG
Former brewery gone artist center in Prenzelberg

In the 20th-century United States, the bohemian impulse was famously seen in the 1940s hipsters, the 1950s Beat generation (exemplified by writers such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti), the much more widespread 1960s counterculture, and 1960s and 1970s hippies.

Rainbow Gatherings may be seen as another contemporary worldwide expression of the bohemian impulse. [23] An American example is Burning Man, an annual participatory arts festival held in the Nevada desert.

In 2001, political and cultural commentator David Brooks contended that much of the cultural ethos of well-to-do middle-class Americans is Bohemian-derived, coining the oxymoron ''Bourgeois Bohemians" or "Bobos". [24] A similar term in Germany is Bionade-Biedermeier, a 2007 German neologism combining Bionade (a trendy lemonade brand) and Biedermeier (an era of introspective Central European culture between 1815 and 1848). The coinage was introduced in 2007 by Henning Sußebach, a German journalist, in an article that appeared in Zeitmagazin concerning Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg lifestyle. [25] The hyphenated term gained traction and has been quoted and referred to since. A German ARD TV broadcaster used the title Boheme and Biedermeier in a 2009 documentary about Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg. [26] The main focus was on protagonists, that contributed to the image of a paradise for the (organic and kid raising) well-to-do, depicting cafés where Bionade-Biedermeier sips from Fair-Trade . [26]

See also

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References

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Bibliography

Further reading