The Bohemian Life
A new population appeared at the turn of the 21st century: the bourgeois-bohemian or ” bo-bo “. This social class, which enjoys comfortable incomes but disdains conventions, remains difficult to define with a curious reference to ” Bohemia “, which gives rise to the image of primitives and budding artists trying to survive in an old frozen attic.
These young people, who follow a life of frivolity and misery, contributed to the glory of Paris throughout the world at the beginning of the 20th century. Let’s go in their footsteps to understand how a life of hunger-slap can still make a dream today!
From Bohemia to Bohemia
Rimbaud would have baptized the last poem of his Cahiers de Douai: “My Bohemia inadvertently “. For lack of attention from a teenager? The confusion is forgivable since the two words, historical Bohemia and literary Bohemia, refer to the same reality.
Rimbaud (Ultissima Verba), a letter from Delahaye to Verlaine, 1875, Bibliothèque Litteraire Jacques Doucet, Paris wasn’t it thought that those who are now called Roma came from Bohemia, in central Europe?
A symbol of wanderlust and unbound life, the bohemian became the bohemian in the 16th century, the one who lives on the fringes of society. Reject rules, adopt improvisation as a way of being, or display fantasy, including dress.
These unusual behaviors have always been successful among two types of populations that want to be noticed: students and artists. It is a question of making a difference, even if it means being frowned upon and rejected by the rest of the population. Freedom first.
On the side of the Sorbonne
Tommaso Minardi, Self Portrait, 1807, Galleria degli Uffici, Florenceparadoxally, the Bohemia that was born under the sign of nomadism is easy to locate under the Old Regime.
One only has to go to the outskirts of the Sorbonne to cross the eternal rebellious who have found in these neighborhoods enough to stay at little expense, among the small shopkeepers whom they love to mock.
Not hesitating to deal with the menu, the heirs of François Villon make the show in the neighborhood until Louis XIV makes a clean place, with police raids… and patronage.
Enjoy grant! But the embellishment was short-lived, and the broke writers had to get back in search of some lessons to give or poems to write on command. To occupy their free time and their chat rooms among the regular cafés, they multiply the slanders and pamphlets towards the leaders.
In this way, the “literature Rascals” (Voltaire) of the 18th century, with their great backbiting, brought a not inconsiderable stone to the edifice of the Revolution. As Henry Murger points out, “Bohemia makes love, war, and even diplomacy”!
Gerrit Van Honthorst, The Student disorderly, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich
“Workers of the pen” (Sainte-Beuve)
The beginning of the 19th century, with its tremors, its Napoleonic heroes and its dismal mornings, created a whole generation of Dreamers both ready to fight and at the same time cramped in a society that does not want them. Hair in the wind, a new family of adventurers of knowledge, is imposed before 1830 in the heart of Paris.