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{{other uses|Bohemian (disambiguation)}}{{Distinguish|Bohemistics|Bohemism}}File:Pierre-Auguste Renoir - En été (La Bohémienne).jpg|thumb|upright|Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Bohemian (or Lise the Bohemian), 1868, oil on canvas, Berlin, Germany: Alte NationalgalerieAlte NationalgalerieBohemianism 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.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.First occurrence in this sense in English, 1848 (OED).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 bohèmeWEB,weblink SeaDict Online Dictionary, 16 November 2013,weblink" title="">weblink 6 April 2015, dead, (literally "high Bohemia").NEWS, Montgomery County looks to get hip, 17 February 2013,weblink Turque, Bill, Washington Post, 16 November 2013, 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).WEB,weblink Bohemian etymology, 2008-12-27, Harper, Douglas, Online Etymology Dictionary, November 2001,


European bohemianism

Literary bohemians were associated in the French imagination with roving Romani people (called Bohémiens because they were believed to have arrived from BohemiaBohemian in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company.), 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.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.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.WEB,weblink Scenes de la Vie de Boheme,, 2008-04-22, 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, their 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

File:Bohemian Grove during the summer Hi-Jinks, circa 1911-16..jpg|thumb|left|Bohemian GroveBohemian GroveIn the 1850s, aesthetic bohemians began arriving in the United States.Roy Kotynek, John Cohassey (2008). "American Cultural Rebels: Avant-Garde and Bohemian Artists, Writers and Musicians from the 1850s through the 1960s". McFarland 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.The Mark Twain Project. Explanatory Notes regarding the letter from Samuel Langhorne Clemens to Charles Warren Stoddard, 23 Apr 1867. Retrieved on July 26, 2009. This group gathered at a German bar on Broadway called Pfaff's beer cellar.BOOK, The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature, Tarnoff, Benjamin, Penguin Press, 2014, 978-1594204739, 54–55, Members included their leader Henry Clapp, Jr., Ada Clare, Walt Whitman, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, and actress Adah Isaacs Menken.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. 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.Brown, Junius Henri. Four Years in Secessia, O.D. Case and Co., 1866San 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{{nbsp}}..."Ogden, Dunbar H.; Douglas McDermott; Robert Károly Sarlós Theatre West: Image and Impact, Rodopi, 1990, pp. 17–42. {{ISBN|90-5183-125-0}}Mark Twain included himself and Charles Warren Stoddard in the bohemian category in 1867. 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.Bohemian Club. Constitution, By-laws, and Rules, Officers, Committees, and Members, Bohemian Club, 1904, p. 11. ''Semi-centennial high jinks in the Grove, 1922, Bohemian Club, 1922, pp. 11–22. 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 (wikt:bon vivant|bons vivants), sportsmen, and appreciators of the fine arts. Club member and poet George Sterling responded to this redefinition:Despite his views, Sterling associated with the Bohemian Club, and caroused with artist and industrialist alike at the Bohemian Grove.Canadian composer Oscar Ferdinand Telgmann and poet George Frederick Cameron wrote the song "The Bohemian" in the 1889 opera Leo, the Royal Cadet.WEB,weblink Leo, the Royal cadet [microform] : Cameron, George Frederick, 1854–1885 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive,, 2001-03-10, 2011-12-30, The impish American writer and Bohemian Club member Gelett Burgess, who coined the word blurb, supplied this description of the amorphous place called Bohemia:File:Gelett Burgess - Map of Bohemia 1896.jpg|thumb|The Lark, March 1, 1896 (see also {{slink">The Winter's Tale|The seacoast of Bohemia}})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)".Krehbiel, Henry Edward. The Bohemians (New York Musicians' Club) A historical narrative and record. Written and compiled for the celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of the foundation of the Club (1921), pp. 7–11. 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.NEWS, SEIZE $75,000 LIQUOR IN BIG 'DRY' DRIVE,weblink March 26, 2011, The New York Times, September 2, 1920, NEWS, March 26, 2011, You Mustn't Crack Up the Darwinian Theory at Joe's, The New York Times, November 2, 1913,weblink WEB, Peters, Lisa N., Max Weber’s Joel’s Café: A Forgotten New York Establishment Comes to Light,weblink Spanierman Modern Contemporary and Modern Art Blog, March 26, 2011, February 18, 2011, "Joel’s bohemian refreshery" Restaurant-ing through history 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."EPISODE, NPR, Neda Ulaby (Director), In Pricey Cities, Being A Bohemian Starving Artist Gets Old Fast, All Things Considered, 2014-05-31, 2014-05-15,weblink


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|reason=Where does he state this?|date=April 2016}}, but most conservative cultural critics do not condone bohemian lifestyles {{citation needed|reason=Which conservative cultural critics?|date=April 2016}}.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:
  • Nouveau: bohemians that are rich who attempt to join traditional bohemianism with contemporary culture
  • Gypsy: the expatriate types, they create their own Gypsy ideal of nirvana wherever they go
  • Beat: also drifters, but non-materialist and art-focused
  • Zen: "post-beat," focus on spirituality rather than art
  • Dandy: no money, but try to appear as if they have it by buying and displaying expensive or rare items – such as brands of alcohol BOOK, Stover, Laren, Bohemian Manifesto: a Field Guide to Living on the Edge, Bulfinch Press, 0-8212-2890-0, 2004,
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|reason=How do you know this?|date=April 2016}}.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.(File:Prenzlauer_Berg_Pfefferberg-001.JPG|thumb|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.BOOK, Niman, Michael I., People of the Rainbow: a Nomadic Utopia, The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1997, 0-87049-988-2,weblink 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".BOOK, Brooks, David, Bobos in Paradise: the New Upper Class and How They Got There, Simon and Schuster, New York NY, 2001, 0-684-85378-7, 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.NEWS,weblink Szene: Bionade-Biedermeier, Sußebach, Henning, 2009-01-08, Die Zeit, 0044-2070, 2016-09-02, 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.WEB,weblink ARD-Doku "Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg": Boheme und Biedermeier, 2015-09-27,,weblink" title="">weblink 2015-09-28, dead, 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''.

See also

Related terms
Related cultures or movements




  • BOOK, Easton, Malcolm, Artists and Writers in Paris. The Bohemian Idea, 1803–1867, London, Arnold, 1964, ASIN B0016A7CJA,
  • BOOK, Graña, César, Bohemian versus Bourgeois: French Society and the French Man of Letters in the Nineteenth Century, New York, Basic Books, 1964, 0-465-00736-8,
  • Parry, Albert. (2005.) Garretts & Pretenders: A History of Bohemianism in America, Cosimo, Inc. {{ISBN|1-59605-090-X}}
  • BOOK, Stansell, Christine, American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century, Henry Holt & Company, 2000, 0-8050-4847-2,weblink
  • BOOK, Wilson, Elizabeth, Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts, Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2002, 1-86064-782-0,

Further reading

  • BOOK, Levin, Joanna, Bohemia in America, 1858–1920, Stanford University Press, 2010, 978-0-8047-6083-6,
  • BOOK, Siegel, Jerrold, Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Boundaries of Bourgeois Life, 1830–1930, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, 978-0-8018-6063-8,
  • Tarnoff, Benjamin (2014) The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature. Penguin Books. {{ISBN|978-1594204739}}.

External links

{{romanticism}}{{simple living}}{{hippies}}{{social class}}{{Authority control}}

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