Bohemian People and Places

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Bohemian People and Places

When one thinks of Bohemians, the image of the person who surfaces in the mind tends to be have lines drawn that emphasize the ability to live a little rootlessly, a little ruthlessly, and in a way that is counter to the expected. They also tend to occupy a community of like-minded individuals. With the upcoming publication of The Lesser Bohemians, here are a few other books that strategically delve into what “Bohemian” means, and where to find it (both in the past, and today).
 
Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians

Alongside Walt Whitman, Justin Martin discusses the influence a saloon had on actor Edwin Booth, stand-up comic Artemus Ward, drug pioneer and author Fitz Hugh Ludlow, and “Naked Lady” performer, Adah Menken: America’s first ambassadors of bohemian culture.

The First Bohemians : life and art in London’s golden age

Covering the emergence of an artistic bohemia in London, author Vic Gatrell discusses some of the 18th Century’s most significant artists, actors, poets, novelists, and dramatists. His varied and well-researched source material draws back the curtain on the deep fascination creators like Hogarth, Blake, and Rowlandson felt while depicting life and reality on their own terms.

The art of protest : culture and activism from the civil rights movement to the streets of Seattle

As things in the United States, particularly in terms of study, have become more separate and fragmented, it has become apt to find the idea of bohemia parsed into different iterations of rebellion. These iterations result in an emphasis not just on artistic initiative but also on protest and social momentum. With this book, T.V. (Thomas Vernon) Reed moves into the social sphere, but not at the expense of artistic creation. Rather, he ties the two together showing that the complexity of people cannot abide social change unsupported by culture; the two facets sustain each other symbiotically and allow for proliferation.

Words will break cement : the passion of pussy riot
 
More in reference to popular culture and an activist sensibility (as opposed to a past-dated notion of Bohemia) Masha Gessen’s book brings the idea of rebellion into the idealism that leads to the realm of inciting on-the-ground revolution. She achieves this through access to the families of the band members and the freedom it gave her to recreate the act of defiance that prompted Pussy Riot’s appearance in International headlines.

Weird Like Us : My Bohemian America
 
Ann Powers uses this book to provide examples and anecdotes of an American Bohemia that she claims is actively redefining the cultural and political landscape through innovations and passions. An insightful music critic, Powers calls “artists, writers, entrepreneurs, queers, and cyber-outlaws” her comrades and demonstrates the world they are creating for themselves and others, perpetuating an alternative that the very word bohemian embodies. Her book is tied to the present while keeping a clear eye on the past (and the future) as well.