Bohemia is Dead

BEA HANNAY-YOUNG

Bohemia: a liberal and arty utopia, occupied by a semi-mythical race. The ‘bohemians’ are those who “live as vagabonds, an unregimented life without assured resources, who do not worry about tomorrow” (at least that’s what the 1932 Dictionnaire de l’Académie Française would have us believe).

Bohemia has popped up apparently quite by chance, in different places and at different times. Within it, emblematic generations of artists are fostered and united behind ideals of eccentricity, amorality, and rebellion. France has historically been Bohemia’s obvious home: it gifted us La bohème, and it sold us all a vision of the 1920s’ gin-soaked existentialists, sharing ideas, and drinks, and beds. The beatniks tore up San Francisco (and its anti-obscenity laws) in the 1950s. Kreuzberg was an oasis of promiscuity, poetry, and poverty in 1970s West Berlin, ringed as it was on three sides by the Wall. London’s Soho and New York’s Greenwich…

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