What we know as the bohemian was invented in France in the 1830s by George Sand and Félix Pyat and forged into a mythology in the 1840s through the literary sketches of Henri Murger. Prior to this time, the term bohemian had referred to such unredeemable social outsiders as gypsies and vagabonds; its new usage made it the province of those who lived for art, spurned social convention, and invested their impoverished lifestyles with the libidinal frisson of cultural rebellion. Dislocated from its geographic moorings, bohemia was fashioned into an imaginary land occupied by those whose “ideals shine through the poverty stricken conditions in which they must often pursue their unconventional lives” (75). It also became a target for attack: from the middle classes, for social parasitism; from Marx, for political irresponsibility; and from bohemians themselves, for housing interlopers, a.k.a. poseurs.

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