The Institute For The Study
Of Bohemian Literature

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   What Is A Bohemian?

   The literal definition and original meaning of the term "Bohemian," is a native or inhabitant of the region or former province of  what is now western Czechoslovakia.

    However, the term as it applies to the arts is a timeless concept that knows no geogrpahic boundaries. In this context, Bohemia is not a place on a map but any community of people whose paramount interest is literary or artistic in nature. Consequently, due to this interest, the lifestyle of the Bohemian tends to differ dramatically from what might be considered to be established norms.

    In fact, Bohemia can be pinpointed on the abstract map. According to Alphone de Calonne in his 1852 work, Voyage au pays de Boheme, "The land of Bohemia is a sad country, bounded on the North by need, on the South by poverty, on the East by illusion, and on the West by the hospital. It is irrigated by two inexhaustible streams: imprudence and shame."

    If this is the location, then what of its inhabitants? In 1904 George Sterling, the San Francisco romantic poet defined a Bohemian as someone with a "devotion to one or more of the Seven Arts... and who lives in poverty." He went on to state that "other factors suggest themselves: for instance, I like to think of my Bohemians as young, as radical in their outlook on art and life, as unconventional...."

    The following question has been asked to determine whether one is a Bohemian: "You have enough money to buy either art supplies or a meal, but not enough money to buy both. Which would you buy?" If you chose art supplies, you qualify as a Bohemian.

    There has been an historical fascination with the Bohemian lifestlye. The effort to locate Bohemia on the map and to define the attributes of Bohemians has been ongoing since Shakespeare's time.

    The mission of the Institute For The Study Of Bohemian Literature is to study, collect and disseminate  information about the Bohemian lifestlye and Bohemian literature from the early 1800's onward to the present.

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Website Last Updated: 03/07/2020