Thackeray and Bohemia
Whether as a counter-cultural phenomenon or a sociological myth, Bohemia has long eluded concrete definitions. In the last thirty years, however, there has been a noticeable contrast between the ambitious theoretical concerns of cultural historians of nineteenthcentury Continental Bohemianism and the more staunchly biographical approaches of critics concerned with Bohemian writers in mid-Victorian England. In the absence of the Latin Quarter, attempts to define the English Bohemianism of Thackeray‘s era have been somewhat reductive, revolving around London establishments such as the Garrick Club and disparate groupings such as the metropolitan novelists, journalists, and playwrights who are sometimes pigeonholed as 'Dickens‘s Young Men'. This thesis uses the work of William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–63) to argue that such readings have lost sight of the profound impact which mid-Victorian ideas of Bohemianism had on a far wider section of middle-class Englishmen.
Chapter 1 explores the pivotal role which Thackeray played in the translation of Bohemian behavioural ideals from France to England. Beginning and ending with his seminal Bohemian protagonist in
The second chapter considers the parallels between the impact of Thackeray‘s work and the contemporaneous writings of the famous chronicler of Parisian Bohemianism, Henry Murger (1822–61). Through analysis of cultural reception and literary form, this chapter investigates the way in which these writers have been both criticized and revered for perpetuating particularly inclusive myths of Bohemianism. It then explores the way in which Thackeray‘s
Chapters 3 and 4 are companion chapters, surveying the way in which ideas of Bohemianism developed post-