Search >> American Bohemias, 1858-1912: A Literary and Cultural Geography
No electronic version of this text is available.
Levin, Joanna Dale. American Bohemias, 1858-1912: A Literary and Cultural Geography. Ph.D Dissertation; Stanford University, 2001. 394 p.
Type: dissertation ; Genre: history, literary criticism
Dissertation that "examines the construction of 'Bohemia' in American literature and culture" from the Pfaff's period through the twentieth century.
People Mentioned in this Work
- Aldrich, Thomas Bailey [pages: 21,86,198]
- Aldrich is mentioned as one of the "mainstays of the 'genteel tradition'" who occasionally visited Pfaff's and later tried to dissociate himself from the group. This group's association with the Pfaffians "helped define the genteel Bohemianism that would come into fashion in the 1870's and 1880's" through their "antipathy towards bourgeois materialism." He would become important in the post-bellum era (21).
- Arnold, George [pages: 39,87]
- Levin notes that Arnold's "Cui Bono," was an endorsement of the critique of the Protestant Work Ethic. She cites the lines:
"A harmless fellow, wasting useless days
Am I: I love my comfort and my leisure
Let those who wish them, toil for gold and praise,
To me, this summer-day brings more pleasure" (39).
- Bristed, Charles Astor [pages: 17,55,78,84]
- Bristed was the grandson of the "quintessential self-made bourgeois" John Jacob Astor. Bristed tangentially acquainted with the Pfaffians. His translation (from a German ballad) called the "Three Gypsies" was included in the article "New Theory of Bohemians" that ran in the Knickerbocker Magazine in 1861. Levin cites part of the verse:
"Three fold they showed me, as there they lay,
How those who take life in the true sense,
Fiddle it, smoke it, and sleep it away,
And trebly despise its nuisance."
Levin also cites the final stanza of "Three Gypsies":
"As I went on I had to look back,
Watching those curious creatures,
Watching their locks of hair, jet black,
and their merry dark-brown features" (17).
Levin notes that the poem "expresses the traits that Bohemians typically valued in the gypsy" (17). Bristed was also one of Murger's first American translators (17).
Levin mentions Bristed's "New Theory of Bohemianism" as a counter-argument to female Bohemianism: "Women are not fit Bohemians. They are flowers too delicate for the violent extremes of the Bohemian climate. Moreover, it is difficult for a woman, without some loss of delicacy, to be very unconventional, and that is just what a Bohemian is apt to be" (55). Levin claims that Bristed saw marriage as the means to "balance and contain" Bohemianism (55).
- Clapp, Henry Jr. [pages: 6, 18,22,23,25,28,30-36,45-46,51,55,57-59,61,70-71,73,76-77,82,87,90,91,299]
- Levin notes that the group at Pfaff's "clustered around him." Levin lables him an "inconoclast" and credits him with the vision of a Parisian recreation at Pfaff's (6). Clapp picked Pfaff's for the quality of the coffee and beer and "foreign ambiance" (18). Clapp "'puffed' Pfaff's" (19) and set the tone for the group and created self-conscious Bohemian spirit (22). According to Levin, both Clapp and Whitman provide "direct links" in the discussion of the emergence of Bohemian "in the wake of antebellum reform movements and experimental utopian communities" (23).
Clapp refered to as both the "King" and "Prince" of Bohemia. Levin quotes William Dean Howells' description of Clapp on p.73.
- Clare, Ada [pages: 6,22,47-49,54,55-57,61,90,162]
- Often refered to as the "Queen of Bohemia" (6). Clare was a an essayist, novelist, and actress. Levin claims that she was probably best know for her affair with Louis Gottschalk (whom Levin describes as a "Byronic sex symbol"). Levin notes that the affiar resulted in an "illegitimate son whom Clare then brandished in the face of conventional mores" (22). Levin cites Clare's remarks on Bohemianism in the Saturday Press on p. 47.
Clare was one of several Pfaffians to relocate to San Francisco and work for the Golden Era. Levin notes that the paper was "especially jubilant" about Clare's arrival and quotes the March 20, 1864 issue:
"Ada Clare has justly acquired an intellectual renown far surpassing any heretofore awarded to a lady journalist, either at home or abroad, and it thoroughly entitled to a royalty in the American press. As regards to what is popularly and eccentrically known as the 'Bohemia' of newspaperdom, she is unquestionably a Queen in every essential of literary and social superiority that supports a legitimate claim to such eminence" (162).
- Congdon, Charles Taber [pages: 20]
- Levin includes his remarks about the Romanticism of the cellar and how it reminds him of Auerbach's Cellar in Faust with its "low ceilings, stone walls and stacks of barrels" (20).
- Emerson, Ralph Waldo [pages: 34,35,74,89,95n10]
- Levin discusses the similarities and differences in Emerson's and Clapp's writing and ideological stances (34,35).
- Halleck, Fitz-Greene [pages: 88]
- Levin quotes Winter's remarks on the "day jobs" of several notable nineteenth century writers, including Halleck's work as an accountant (88).
- Howells, William Dean [pages: iv,4,9,23,48,65-66,73-75,82-83,86,95n10,113,116,198,199,208,248,251,253-266]
- Howells is mentioned as one of the "disparate writers" who discuss "Bohemia" in their works (4). Levin notes that in accounts of Bohemian life, such as Howells' A Modern Issue and The Coast of Bohemia, "the regional metonymizes the provincial and upholds traditional values, while Bohemia represents an urbane, if outre, metropolitanism" (9).
Levin mentions that the Saturday Press was influential enough for Howells to say that "at the time, it 'represented New York literature to my imagination' and 'embodied the new literary life of the city'" (23).
Levin presents him as a representative Bostonian among the Bohemians.
- Ludlow, Fitz Hugh [pages: 21,162,165]
- Ludlow was a New York Bohemain and author of "The Hasish Eater." Levin notes that David Reynolds calls this work "the most bizarre work by a nineteenth century American" (21). Ludlow was one of several writers associated with Pfaff's to relocate to San Francisco and write for the Golden Era (162). Webb writes about Ludlow in a "literary hoax" sketch Webb wrote for the Golden Era called "The Bohemians in Court": "Fitz Hugh Ludlow, better known by the soubriquet of the 'Hasheesh Infant,' came into court...bearing a huge book under his arm - Darwin's Origin of the Species." Levin notes that Darwin's work was "a book that seems to function as a kind of Bohemian talisman endowed the the power to affront traditional pieties. Serving as an ironic character reference, Webb's 'Ludlow' then announces that the defendant 'was a Bohemian by nature and profession,' a statement that, in part becuase of its questionable value to the defense, only underscores Bohemian marginality" (165).
- Menken, Adah Isaacs [pages: 22,54,55-56,61,90,162]
- Levin describes her as a "sometime poet and successful actress." Menken achieved international fame in 1860 in a melodrama in which final scene features her in flesh-colored body suit lashed to the back of a horse, riding towards the horizon (22). Menken was one of several writers associated with Pfaff's to relocate to San Francisco and write for the Golden Era (162).
- O'Brien, Fitz-James [pages: 21,41,44,86,87,90,109]
- Levin describes O'Brien as an Irish imigrant author of "Poe-like" stories." [O'Brien] "probably best embodied Bohemian eccentricity" (21). Levin also claims that O'Brien "was the Bohemian most likely to inspire comparisons to both the working-class loafer and tne aristocratic dandy" because he "performed different class identities" (41). According to Levin, "O'Brien - who reportedly liked 'to appear not to work at all' and who would 'saunter downtown as if time killing were his only object in life' - critiqued the Bohemian persona more scathingly than any Sunday paper" through his story "The Bohemian" (44).
- Osgood, James Ripley [pages: 155]
- Levin mentions Osgood briefly as Bret Harte's east coast publsiher (155).
- Poe, Edgar Allan [pages: 71-72,88]
- In discussing the contrast between Baudelaire's and Whitman's views of Bohemia, Levin argues that their "conflicting responses to Poe" help shape their positions (71).
- Saturday Press, The [pages: 7,12,18,19,21,22,23,32,33,34,35,36,38-39,43,45-46,47-52,53,54,55,56,57,60,61-63,73,76-77,81-82,83,84,85-86,87,88,89,90,91,92,160-161,163,248,274]
- Levin includes The New York Saturday Press as one of the Pfaffians' forms of "self-description" (7). Clapp advertised Pfaff's in one of his "puffs" about the saloon in the Saturday Press: "this modest restaurant and Lager Beer saloon, at 647 Broadway, is extensively patronized by young literary men, artists, and that large class of people called Germans" (18).
Levin notes that Clapp's personal qualities "determined the modd of the New York Saturday Press." She notes that "Within the Saturday Press, Bohemian 'freedom of thought' often translated into a scathing critique of what the Pfaffians took to be one of the central violations of bourgeois existence: humbuggery. 'The purpose of the Saturday Press was to speak the truth,' Winter remembers, 'and to speak it in a way that would amuse its readers and would cast ridicule upon as manyas possible of the humbugs then extant and prosperous in literature and art'" (22).
The Saturday Press had a national circulation and a wide subscription base. Levin mentions that the Saturday Press was influential enough for Howells to say that "at the time, it 'represented New York literature to my imagination' and 'embodied the new literary life of the city'" (23).
The Press did not have a large subscription base, but it had a national circulation. Whitman argued that "the Press cut a significant figure in teh periodical literature of the time." Howells also wrote that "young writers throughout the country were ambitious to be seen in [The Saturday Press]" and they "gave their best to it" (86).
Levin mentions that the Golden Era began to be linked "directly and indirectly" to "the glamorous notoriety, literary prestige, and enviable camaraderie of Bohmemia (especially as embodied in the New York Saturday Press)" (160). Levin claims that this was part of Colonel Lawrence's plans for his "literary weekly" in which he also "promoted" the "connection to New York whenever possible." Lawrence republished a number of articles in his weekly and closely followed the New York literary scene (especially those associated with Pfaff's) (160-161).
- Stedman, Edmund Clarence [pages: 21,87-88]
- Stedman is mentioned as one of the "mainstays of the 'genteel tradition'" who occasionally visited Pfaff's and later tried to dissociate himself from the group. This group's association with the Pfaffians "helped define the genteel Bohemianism that would come into fashion in the 1870's and 1880's" through their "antipathy towards bourgeois materialism." He would become important in the post-bellum era (21). Levin also looks to Stansell's highlighting of Stemdan's claims that higher pay for literary and journalistic work would have made Bohemia and a Bohemain life necessary; he largely claims that many of them would have turned "respectable" if they had had the means (87).
- Stoddard, Richard Henry [pages: 21]
- Stoddard is mentioned as one of the "mainstays of the 'genteel tradition'" who occasionally visited Pfaff's and later tried to dissociate himself from the group. This group's association with the Pfaffians "helped define the genteel Bohemianism that would come into fashion in the 1870's and 1880's" through their "antipathy towards bourgeois materialism." He would become important in the post-bellum era (21).
- Taylor, Bayard [pages: 18-19,21]
- Levin is unclear as to how often he visited Pfaff's. Taylor remarked that the cellar reminded him of one in Leipzig and said, "mild potations of beer and the dreamy breath of cigars delayed the nervous, fidgety, clattering-footed American hours" (19). Taylor also noted that the atmosphere allowed escape from bourgeois life.
Taylor is mentioned as one of the "mainstays of the 'genteel tradition'" who occasionally visited Pfaff's and later tried to dissociate himself from the group. This group's association with the Pfaffians "helped define the genteel Bohemianism that would come into fashion in the 1870's and 1880's" through their "antipathy towards bourgeois materialism." He would become important in the post-bellum era (21).
- Twain, Mark [pages: 7,91,94,116,147,166-174,176,198]
- Levin refers to Twain as the "Sagebrush Bohemian" of the Golden Era (7). Twain was published in The Saturday Press.
- Vaughan, Frederick B. [pages: 28]
- Vaughn, a stagecoach driver, is mentioned as a friend and possible lover of Whitman. Vaughn specified that Pfaff's was "a favorite meeting-place" of his (28).
- Webb, Charles Henry [pages: 118,162-167,174]
- Levin mentions Webb in a discussion of Bret Harte. Webb is described as "a former Pfaffian who began contributing to the Golden Era in 1864, and who soon after started a new literary monthly entitled the Californian with Harte, [Webb} also mocked Harte's chosen subjectivity; he ironically protested that all the Golden Era's regular contributors were sober and respectable, with the exception of 'Bret,' whose debauchery was legendary" (118). Webb was one of several Pfaffians to visit or relocate to San Francisco and write for the Golden Era. Webb joined the staff of the Golden Era in 1863, and "may well have helped Lawrence with his 'in-group' references to Pfaff's" (162). According to Levin, Webb was the only Pfaffian to "thematize Bohemianism" in his Golden Era columns (162). Webb became Harte's "chief partner" in the "endeavor" to "describe a collaborative vie de boheme" in the Golden Era. Levin notes that aside from being associated with the Bohemianism at Pfaff's, Webb "had had the requisite romantic past: he had spent four years whaling in the South Seas and in the Arctic; he was also a notorious womanizer and, in San Francisco, he lived at the Occidental Hotel among the 'fast set' of urban bachelors. More importantly, his weekly column, 'Things,' exhibited much of The New York Saturday Press's incisive irreverence and bursts of moral indignation, and Webb and Harte quickly determined to start their own magazine together" (162-163).
- Whitman, Walt [pages: iv,4,6,7,20-21,22,23,25-30,42,45-46,49,55-56,59-60,62-72,85,86,89,91,95n10,109,151,179,256]
- Whitman is mentioned as one of the "disparate writers" who discuss "Bohemia" in their works (4). Levin cites Whitman's "The Vault at Pfaff's" as one of the Pfaffians' "self-descriptions" (7). Levin suggests that this unfinished poem describes "the precarious position of Bohemia within and without the national marketplace" (20). According to Levin, both Clapp and Whitman provide "direct links" in the discussion of the emergence of Bohemianism "in the wake of antebellum reform movements and experimental utopian communities" (23).
Levin notes that through much of the "American Renaissance," Whitman was thought of as "one of the most indecent writers who ever raked filth into sentences" (21).
- Willis, Nathaniel Parker [pages: 105-106]
- Levin refers to Willis' works and remarks as a travel correspondent (105-106).
- Winter, William [pages: 19-20,22,74,88,109]
- Levin describes him as "a drama critic, poet, and sometime editor of The Saturday Press. Levin notes that Winter's memoirs display the "spectacular design of the Bohemian's self-staging," "highlighting Bohemia's complicated position within the American marketplace." Levin quotes Winter's description of Pfaff's from Old Friends (19-20). Levin also discusses Winter's mentions of the ill-pay of the Bohemian writers and the "Romantic myth" that they "strove to embody" (20).
Levin cites his discussion of Bostonians.
- Levin, Joanna. Bohemia in America, 1858-1920. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010. [more about this work]