Bohemia in London: The Social Scene of Early Modernism by P. Brooker

By P. Brooker

This unique examine discovers the bourgeois within the modernist and the dissenting kind of Bohemia within the new creative events of the 1910s. Brooker sees the bohemian because the instance of the trendy artist, at odds with yet outlined via the codes of bourgeois society. It renews once again the complexities and radicalism of the modernist challenge.

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They wanted filling’ (Lewis, 1984: 139). He increasingly adopted ‘a humanist naturalism in art’ (Sheppard, 1989: 524) which, after 1917, became associated with an emerging auto-critique of Vorticist abstraction and vitalism thought now to be complicit with the violence of war. Tarr is difficult to place in this period of concentrated rethinking, but while it rejects the concept of the ‘indivisible ego’ targeted in Blast 1 in favour of the externalised and emptied self of Vorticism, it also ridicules the extremes of a Vorticist subjectivity.

32 Bohemia in London Evidently there were contrasting perceptions of the Café Royal. So too were there of London and London locations, prepared, in effect, by poets’ words and painters’ images. Symons himself – like many of his contemporaries – saw the city through the canvases of Whistler and the texts of Pater and Baudelaire. Thus, in words which echo all three: ‘The especial beauty of London is the Thames, and the Thames is so wonderful because the mist is always changing its shapes and colours, always making its lights mysterious’ showing ‘reflections of golden fire, multiplying arch beyond arch’ (1918: 138–9).

First of all, in her active sexuality, independence and unchaperoned movement across Paris, she is herself ‘male’ as these activities were customarily gendered – she guesses Tarr views her as ‘not properly a woman’ because of her intelligence and good sense (Lewis, 1990: 296). Her equivalent would be consequently ‘feminised’, though in the manner of her own female identity not that of its stereotypes. In the 1928 version of Tarr Lewis made changes to the syntax and presentation of character to produce the more ‘straightforward novel’ he spoke of in the 1910s (Lewis, 1984: 139).

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