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Bohemia in America, 1858-1920$
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Joanna Levin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760836

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760836.001.0001

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The Bohemian Grove and the Making of the Bourgeois-bohemian

The Bohemian Grove and the Making of the Bourgeois-bohemian

(p.197) 4 The Bohemian Grove and the Making of the Bourgeois-bohemian
Bohemia in America, 1858-1920
Stanford University Press

The paradoxical Bohemian-Bourgeois of today allegedly reconciles prototypical bohemian desires for rebellion, personal liberation, play, and self-indulgence (“culture of consumption”) with bourgeois values such as thrift, diligence, sobriety, and self-restraint (“culture of production”). More than a century ago, members of San Francisco's bourgeoisie and artistic community attempted to unite the Bohemian and the Bourgeois by forming an elite, all-male organization known as the Bohemian Club. Among its members were wealthy businessmen, leading politicians, Stanford and Berkeley professors, and writers and artists such as Jack London, Jules Tavernier, and Frank Norris. The Bohemian Club represents one of the first efforts in the United States to “synthesize” la vie bohème and clubbable capitalism. The club's midsummer encampments, dubbed the “Bohemian Grove,” promised a personal and collective transformation. Its promise of “Bohemia” became a locus of bourgeois desire and social experimentation, enabling a rethinking of bourgeois work and leisure ethics, gender roles, and spiritual commitments.

Keywords:   Bohemia, Bourgeois, San Francisco, Bohemian Club, la vie bohème, capitalism, Bohemian Grove, leisure ethics, gender roles, social experimentation

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