Bohemia has been variously defined as a mythical country, a state of mind, a tavern by the wayside on the road of life. The editors of this volume prefer a leaner definition: an attitude of dissent from the prevailing values of middle-class society, one dependent on the existence of caf life. But whatever definition is preferred, this rich and long overdue collective portrait of Bohemian life in a large variety of settings is certain to engage and even entrance readers of all types: from the student of culture to social researchers and literary figures n search of their ancestral roots.
The work is international in scope and social scientific in conception. But because of the special nature of the Bohemian fascination, the volume is also graced by an unusually larger number of exquisite literary essays. Hence, one will find in this anthology writings by Malcolm Cowely, Norman Podhoretz, Norman Mailer, Theophile Gautier, Honore de Balzac, Mary Austin, Stefan Zweig, Nadine Gordimer, and Ernest Hemingway. Social scientists are well represented by Cesar Grana, Ephraim Mizruchi, W.I. Thomas, Florian Znaniecki, Harvey Zorbaugh, John R. Howard, and G. William Domhoff, among others.
The volume is sectioned into major themes in the history of Bohemia: social and literary origins, testimony by the participants, analysis by critics of and crusaders for the bohemian life, the ideological characteristics of the bohemians, and the long term prospect as well as retrospect for bohemenianism as a system, culture and ideology. The editors have provided a framework for examining some fundamental themes in social structure and social deviance: What are the levels of toleration within a society? Do artists deserve and receive special treatment by the powers that be? And what are the connections between bohemian life-styles and political protest movements?
This is an anthology and not a treatise, so the reader is free to pick and choose not only what to read, but what sort of general patterns are essential and which are transitional. This collection, initiated by the late Cesar Grana, has been completed and brought to fruition by his wife Marigay Grana.
Cesar Grana was, prior to his death, professor of sociology at the University of California in San Diego. Among his major books is Meaning and Authenticity, also available from Transaction. Marigay Grana was formerly an urban planner and designer in San Diego. She now is a free-lance editor living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.