Like Frédéric, he found his way into the mildly exotic Parisian subculture that had only recently receive the name of Bohemia. Bohemia was like a large waiting-room in which the restless talented portion of the rising generation gathered to search out its eventual destination. One door led into respectability, money and worldly success. The other door led into hunger and obscurity. Bohemia was the risky, marginal space at the entrance to the adult world. Licensed for every variety of playful creative extravagance, here you might safely dramatize your ambivalence towards the meagre social destiny comprehended in the word ‘bourgeois’. In Bohemia, art and life were provocatively confused

Geoffrey Wall


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