Les "ancêtres" : les Bohèmes, les Beatniks, etc. ...
Très bon article historique sur les "Bohèmes " :
WHAT IS A BOHEMIAN?
The literal definition and original meaning of the term "Bohemian," is a native or inhabitant of the region and former province of western Czechoslovakia.
However, the term as it applies to the arts is a timeless concept that knows no geogrpahic boundaries. In this context, Bohemia is not a place on a map but any community of people whose paramount interest is literary or artistic in nature. Consequently, due to this interest, the lifestyle of the Bohemian tends to differ dramatically from what might be considered to be established norms.
In fact, Bohemia can be pinpointed on the abstract map. According to Alphone de Calonne, in his 1852 work, Voyage au pays de Boheme, "The land of Bohemia is a sad country, bounded on the North by need, on the South by poverty, on the East by illusion, and on the West by the hospital. It is irrigated by two inexhaustible streams: imprudence and shame."
If this is the location, then what of its inhabitants? In 1904 George Sterling, the San Francisco romantic poet defined a Bohemian as someone with a " devotion to one or more of the Seven Arts... and who lives in poverty." He went on to state that "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...."
The following question has been asked to determine whether one is a Bohemian: You have enough money to buy either art supplies or a meal, but not enough money to buy both. Which would you buy? If you chose art supplies, you qualify as a Bohemian.
The effort to locate Bohemia on the map and to define the attributes of Bohemians has been ongoing since Shakespeare's time.
Among the definitions and descriptions are the following:
A lady named Ada Clare, known to New York as the Queen of Bohemia, had stated in 1860: "The Bohemian is by nature, if not by habit, a cosmopolite, with a general sympathy for the fine arts, and for all things above and beyond convention. The Bohemian is not, like the creature of society, a victim of rules and customs; he steps over them with an easy, graceful, joyous unconnsciousness, guided by the principles of good taste and feeling. Above all others, essentially, the Bohemian must not be narrow minded; if he be, he is degraded back to the position of near worlding." - from The Improper Bohemians, Churchill, Allen. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1959, p. 25.
In 1904 George Sterling, the San Francisco romantic poet...added his definition: "Any good mixer of convivial habits considers he has a right to be called Bohemian. But this is not a valid claim. There are two elements, at least, that are essential to Bohemianism. The first is devotion or addition 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..." - from The Improper Bohemians, Churchill, Allen. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1959, p. 25-26.
...An unnamed British observer who stated "Bohemianism is understood to mean a gay disorderliness of life, cheerful bad manners, and no fixed hours or sexual standards." - from The Improper Bohemians, Churchill, Allen. New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1959, p. 26.
"While the Bohemian, strictly speaking, is a native of Bohemia, a gipsy who leads a vagabond and independent life, Bohemians have come to include all those artists and musicians, actors and poets, of every degree, who choose to lead a life outside society." - from The Bohemians, Richarson, Joanna. London: Macmillan, 1969, p 11.
"They had all in a sense, been Bohemian; they had maintained the right of the poet and the man of letters to escape the social system, to follow a personnal moral code, to create his own environment, and develop his originality. They had asserted the right of man to live as he chose..." - from The Bohemians, Richarson, Joanna. London: Macmillan, 1969, p 21.
"The Bohemians of Murger think of the Bohemian life as something transient, something which accompanies youth and must pass inevitably..." - from Scenes de la vie de la Boheme, Introduction, Lewis, D.B.Wyndham. Salt Lake City: Perigrine Smith Books, p. xx.
"’By Bohemians,’ a stage figure of the 1840s declared, ‘I understand that class of individuals whose existence is a problem, social condition a myth, fortune an enigma, who have no stable residence, no recognized retreat, who are located nowhere and whom one encounters everywhere! who have no single occupation and who exercise fifty professions; of whom most get up in the morning wothout knowing where they will dine in the evening; rich today, famished tomorrow, ready to live honestly if they can and someother way if they can’t.’" - from Bohemian Paris, Seigel, Jerrold. New York: Viking, 1986.
"Murger’s disclaimer reminds us that the term bohemien had been part of the vocabulary that described the Paris underworld for centuries. Murger and his friends were always concerned to distinguish their form of deviance and social descent from this other one." - from Bohemian Paris, Seigel, Jerrold. New York: Viking, 1986. p. 125.
"They, too, [including Murger] thought of Bohemian existence as a temporary necessity imposed on young artists and writers, a form of life they would be only too willing to give up once their careers were launched." - from Bohemian Paris, Seigel, Jerrold. New York: Viking, 1986. p. 135.
"Guillemot made clear that Bohemia - defined in his way [as ‘all those whose existence is a problem, all those who live by expedients’] - had no essential tie with the condition of poverty that a Murger or a Privat had assumed was natural to it. There were Bohemians at every social level... whoever built his or her existence on a show of wealth, position, knowledge, or talent that was in fact the product or pretence or illusion was a Bohemian." - from Bohemian Paris, Seigel, Jerrold. New York: Viking, 1986. p. 145.
"Earlier writers had certainly been aware that adolescent rebellion and withdrawal were one compund in the element of Bohemian life, but [Georges] Jenneret may have been the first to isolate it." - from Bohemian Paris, Seigel, Jerrold. New York: Viking, 1986. p. 270.
This sheds some light on Bohemians, but what of Beats? By definition, Beats are Bohemians, but Bohemians are not necessarily Beats.
Murger's introduction to Scenes de la Vie de Boheme outlines his perspective on Bohemians. "Bohemia is a stage in artistic life; it is the preface to the Academy, the Hotel Dieu, or the Morgue . . . Today, as of old, every man who enters on an artistic career, without any other means of livelihood than his art itself, will be forced to walk in the paths of Bohemia" (xxxvi).
He continues to outline the three main kinds of Bohemians that frequent the Latin Quarter:
• Unknown Dreamers - amateur artists who do not seek publicity but expect it to come for them. They are poor and often die from poverty. Murger calls this way of life a "blind alley," and says that their avoidance of fame works against them (xl).
• Amateur - has a steady income but chooses to live in Bohemia for the fun of it. Once they have had their fill, they will return to the bourgeoisie.
• Stalwart Official Bohemians - must be known as an artist to the wider world; though they are not making a lot of money, they are guided by ambition and are expected to soon be "making it" in the world of art. They known both how to be frugal and how to be extravagant and can fit in in squalor or luxury.
Other authors offered their own definitions. "Bohemia is a district in the Department of the Seine bordered on the north by cold, on the west by hunger, on the south by love, and on the east by hope" (Silhouette magazine, qtd. in Miller 60). Author Honore de Balzac wrote "This word 'boheme' is self-explanatory. Bohemia possesses nothing, yet contrives to exist on that nothing. Its religion is hope; its code, faith in itself; its income, in so far that it appears to have one, charity."
The first generations of bohemians were predominantly bourgeois youths on their own in Paris, trying out an independent, artistic life for the first time. For them, Bohemianism was a prolonged adolescence, a time to pretend to be poor before returning to comfortable homes and bourgeois careers. Later, working class people joined the movement too, brining with them their knowledge of actual poverty.
Though they made light of their serious concerns, "to spend one's days hungry and ill-shod, and making paradoxes about it, is really the dreariest kind of existence" (Champfleury, qtd. in Easton 124). Even when poverty was novel, it could still be depressing and even dangerous.
And yet - "Bad as things might seem from time to time, what compensations this life of freedom brought with it: getting up late, lounging and sponging one's way round the clock, and at the end of it, excusing everything, the observation: 'We're only young once!'" (Easton 123).