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Bohemia in America, 1858-1920

Synopsis

Bohemia in America, 1858–1920 explores the construction and emergence of "Bohemia" in American literature and culture. Simultaneously a literary trope, a cultural nexus, and a socio-economic landscape, la vie bohème traveled to the United States from the Parisian Latin Quarter in the 1850s. At first the province of small artistic coteries, Bohemia soon inspired a popular vogue, embodied in restaurants, clubs, neighborhoods, novels, poems, and dramatic performances across the country. Levin's study follows la vie bohème from its earliest expressions in the U. S. until its explosion in Greenwich Village in the 1910s.

Although Bohemia was everywhere in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American culture, it has received relatively little scholarly attention. Bohemia in America, 1858–1920 fills this critical void, discovering and exploring the many textual and geographic spaces in which Bohemia was conjured.

Joanna Levin not only provides access to a neglected cultural phenomenon but also to a new and compelling way of charting the development of American literature and culture.