Épater la bourgeoisie

Épater la bourgeoisie or épater le (or les) bourgeois is a French phrase that became a rallying cry for the French Decadent poets of the late 19th century including Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud.[1] It means "to shock the bourgeoisie".[2]

The Decadents, fascinated as they were with hashish, opium, and absinthe, found, in Joris-Karl Huysmans' novel À rebours (1884), a sexually perverse hero who secludes himself in his house, basking in life-weariness or ennui, far from the bourgeois society that he despises.

The Aesthetes in England, such as Oscar Wilde, shared these same fascinations. This celebration of "unhealthy" and "unnatural" devotion to life, art and excess has been a continuing cultural theme.

See also


  1. ^ Decadence
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster OnLine
Anton Bacalbașa

Anton Costache Bacalbașa (Romanian pronunciation: [anˈton kosˈtake bakalˈbaʃa], commonly known as Toni or Tony Bacalbașa, pen names Rigolo, Wunderkind, Inot, Jus., Wus., Zig. etc.; February 21, 1865 – October 1, 1899) was a Romanian political journalist, humorist and politician, chiefly remembered for his antimilitaristic series Moș Teacă. Together with his brothers Ioan and Constantin, he entered public life as a republican and socialist militant. For a while, his career was intertwined with that of Marxist doyen Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea, who inspired in him the idea of a socialist art addressed to the masses. He was himself a popularizer of Marxist ideas, and one of the first Marxist intellectuals in Romanian political history.

After 1893, Bacalbașa was at the center of Marxist politics, as an executive of the Romanian Social Democratic Workers' Party (PSDMR). While active within the socialist movement and making his essential contributions to Romanian comediography, Toni joined Ion Luca Caragiale, his close friend, in editing the satirical magazine Moftul Român. He helped Constantin Mille to turn Adevărul daily into a socialist tribune, serving as its editor and directing its short-lived literary supplement (Adevărul Literar). His choice of subjects and his perceived harshness were the subject of several controversies, and, in 1894, he defended the Adevărul office building from rioting anti-socialist students. Over the following years, Bacalbașa drifted away from both Adevărul and the PSDMR, switching his allegiance to the political club formed around Nicolae Fleva.

At the time of his death, aged 34, Bacalbașa had served in the Assembly of Deputies as a representative of the Conservative Party. Despite this change in politics, he is mainly credited for his early contributions to Romanian literature, most of which reflect his critique of the political mainstream in the monarchical era. He created the stereotype of the cruel, violent and incompetent officer, and brought to public attention the hazing of young recruits.

Cabaret Voltaire (Zurich)

Cabaret Voltaire was the name of an artistic nightclub in Zürich, Switzerland. It was founded by Hugo Ball, with his companion Emmy Hennings, in the back room of Holländische Meierei, Spiegelgasse 1, on February 5, 1916, as a cabaret for artistic and political purposes. Other founding members were Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Tristan Tzara, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Jean Arp. Events at the cabaret proved pivotal in the founding of the anarchic art movement known as Dada.

It closed in the summer of 1916.

Charles Baudelaire

Charles Pierre Baudelaire (UK: , US: ; French: [ʃaʁl bodlɛʁ] (listen); April 9, 1821 – August 31, 1867) was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe.

His most famous work, a book of lyric poetry titled Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of beauty in modern, and rapidly industrializing Paris during the mid-19th century. Baudelaire's highly original style of prose-poetry influenced a whole generation of poets including Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, among many others. He is credited with coining the term "modernity" (modernité) to designate the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility of artistic expression to capture that experience.


Dada () or Dadaism was an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centers in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire (circa 1916); New York Dada began circa 1915, and after 1920 Dada flourished in Paris. Developed in reaction to World War I, the Dada movement consisted of artists who rejected the logic, reason, and aestheticism of modern capitalist society, instead expressing nonsense, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest in their works. The art of the movement spanned visual, literary, and sound media, including collage, sound poetry, cut-up writing, and sculpture. Dadaist artists expressed their discontent with violence, war, and nationalism, and maintained political affinities with the radical far-left.

There is no consensus on the origin of the movement's name; a common story is that the German artist Richard Huelsenbeck slid a paper knife (letter-opener) at random into a dictionary, where it landed on "dada", a colloquial French term for a hobby horse. Others note that it suggests the first words of a child, evoking a childishness and absurdity that appealed to the group. Still others speculate that the word might have been chosen to evoke a similar meaning (or no meaning at all) in any language, reflecting the movement's internationalism.The roots of Dada lie in pre-war avant-garde. The term anti-art, a precursor to Dada, was coined by Marcel Duchamp around 1913 to characterize works which challenge accepted definitions of art. Cubism and the development of collage and abstract art would inform the movement's detachment from the constraints of reality and convention. The work of French poets, Italian Futurists and the German Expressionists would influence Dada's rejection of the tight correlation between words and meaning. Works such as Ubu Roi (1896) by Alfred Jarry, and the ballet Parade (1916–17) by Erik Satie would also be characterized as proto-Dadaist works. The Dada movement's principles were first collected in Hugo Ball's Dada Manifesto in 1916.

The Dadaist movement included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a variety of media. Key figures in the movement included Hugo Ball, Marcel Duchamp, Emmy Hennings, Hans Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Tristan Tzara, Francis Picabia, Huelsenbeck, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Man Ray, Beatrice Wood, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Richter, Max Ernst, and Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven among others. The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including Surrealism, nouveau réalisme, pop art and Fluxus.

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Elsa Hildegard Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven (née Plötz; 12 July 1874 – 15 December 1927) was a German avant-garde, Dadaist artist and poet who worked for several years in Greenwich Village, New York.

Her provocative poetry was published posthumously in 2011 in Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. The New York Times praised the book as one of the notable art books of 2011.


A freak is someone with something strikingly unusual about their appearance or behaviour. This usage dates from the "freak scene" of the 1960s and 1970s, most famously championed by Frank Zappa, leader of the rock band the Mothers of Invention. The term originally referred to the physically deformed, or having extraordinary diseases and conditions, such as sideshow performers.

Freak scene

The freak scene was originally a component of the bohemian subculture which began in California in the mid-1960s, associated with (or part of) the hippie movement. The term is also used to refer to the post-hippie and pre-punk period of the early to mid-1970s. It can be viewed as encompassing a range of disparate groups including hippies, pacifists, politicized radicals, as well as psychedelic and progressive rock fans. Those connected with the subculture often attended rock festivals, free festivals, happenings, and alternative society gatherings of various kinds.

George Grosz

George Grosz (German: [ɡʁoːs]; born Georg Ehrenfried Groß; July 26, 1893 – July 6, 1959) was a German artist known especially for his caricatural drawings and paintings of Berlin life in the 1920s. He was a prominent member of the Berlin Dada and New Objectivity group during the Weimar Republic. He immigrated to the United States in 1933, and became a naturalized citizen in 1938. Abandoning the style and subject matter of his earlier work, he exhibited regularly and taught for many years at the Art Students League of New York. In 1959 he returned to Berlin where he died.

Glossary of French expressions in English

Around 45% of English vocabulary is of French origin, most coming from the Anglo-Norman spoken by the upper classes in England for several hundred years after the Norman Conquest, before the language settled into what became Modern English. Thoroughly English words of French origin, such as art, competition, force, machine, money, police, publicity, role, routine and table, are pronounced according to English rules of phonology, rather than French, and are commonly used by English speakers without any consciousness of their French origin.

This article, on the other hand, covers French words and phrases that have entered the English lexicon without ever losing their character as Gallicisms: they remain unmistakably "French" to an English speaker. They are most common in written English, where they retain French diacritics and are usually printed in italics. In spoken English, at least some attempt is generally made to pronounce them as they would sound in French; an entirely English pronunciation is regarded as a solecism.

Some of them were never "good French", in the sense of being grammatical, idiomatic French usage. Some others were once normal French but have become very old-fashioned, or have acquired different meanings and connotations in the original language, to the extent that they would not be understood (either at all, or in the intended sense) by a native French speaker.

Glossary of literary terms

The following is a list of literary terms; that is, those words used in discussion, classification, criticism, and analysis of poetry, novels, and picture books.

Henri-Pierre Roché

Henri-Pierre Roché (28 May 1879 – 9 April 1959) was a French author who was deeply involved with the artistic avant-garde in Paris and the Dada movement.

Late in life, Roché published two novels: his first was Jules et Jim (1953), a semi-autobiographical work published when he was 74. His second novel, Les deux anglaises et le continent (Two English Girls, 1956), was also inspired by his life. Both were adapted as films by the director François Truffaut, in 1962 and 1971 respectively. The popularity of the film Jules et Jim brought renewed attention to Roché's novels and life.

John Heartfield

John Heartfield (born Helmut Herzfeld; 19 June 1891 – 26 April 1968) was a German visual artist who pioneered the use of art as a political weapon. Some of his most famous photomontages were anti-Nazi and anti-fascist statements. Heartfield also created book jackets for book authors, such as Upton Sinclair, as well as stage sets for contemporary playwrights, such as Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator.

Louise Varèse

Louise Varèse (20 November 1890 – 1 July 1989) was an American translator of French literature.

Born as Louise McCutcheon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, her first husband was poet and literary editor Allen Norton. The couple had a son in 1912, separated in 1916, and divorced in 1920. A contributor to the Dadaist magazine The Blind Man, then Louise Norton, was a close friend of Marcel Duchamp and was implicated in the 1917 submission of the urinal that became Fountain. She was married to composer Edgard Varèse from 1922 until his death in 1965; they had a daughter, Sylvia (1930–1974).

Varèse translated poetry and other works by Charles Baudelaire, Julien Gracq, Saint-John Perse, Marcel Proust, Arthur Rimbaud, Georges Simenon, and Stendhal. In 1956, she translated the section "The Great Improvisation" from Adam Mickiewicz's poetic drama Dziady. She published in 1972 Edgar Varèse's biography, Varèse: A Looking-Glass Diary.

She was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1969.

New York Dada

Dada was an artistic and cultural movement between the years 1915 and 1923. Usually considered to have originated in Zürich, the Dadaist movement and its loose network of artists spread across Europe as well as into other countries, with New York becoming the primary center of Dada in the United States. The very word Dada is notoriously difficult to define and its origins are disputed, particularly amongst the Dadaists themselves.

The Dada movement has had continuous reverberations in New York art culture and in the art world generally ever since its inception, and it was a major influence on the New York School and Pop Art. Nevertheless, any attempt to articulate solid links between Dada and these movements must be tenuous at best. Such an attempt must begin philosophically with an acknowledgement of the Dadaists' demand to create a new world and artistically with an examination of the techniques the Dadaists used to do so.


Proto-Cubism (also referred to as Protocubism, Pre-Cubism or Early Cubism) is an intermediary transition phase in the history of art chronologically extending from 1906 to 1910. Evidence suggests that the production of proto-Cubist paintings resulted from a wide-ranging series of experiments, circumstances, influences and conditions, rather than from one isolated static event, trajectory, artist or discourse. With its roots stemming from at least the late 19th century this period can be characterized by a move towards the radical geometrization of form and a reduction or limitation of the color palette (in comparison with Fauvism). It is essentially the first experimental and exploratory phase of an art movement that would become altogether more extreme, known from the spring of 1911 as Cubism.

Proto-Cubist artworks typically depict objects in geometric schemas of cubic or conic shapes. The illusion of classical perspective is progressively stripped away from objective representation to reveal the constructive essence of the physical world (not just as seen). The term is applied not only to works of this period by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, but to a range of art produced in France during the early 1900s, by such artists as Jean Metzinger, Albert Gleizes, Henri Le Fauconnier, Robert Delaunay, Fernand Léger, and to variants developed elsewhere in Europe. Proto-Cubist works embrace many disparate styles, and would affect diverse individuals, groups and movements, ultimately forming a fundamental stage in the history of modern art of the 20th-century.

Sex Pistols

The Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that formed in London in 1975. They were responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two and a half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.The Sex Pistols originally comprised vocalist Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook, and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977. Under the management of impresario Malcolm McLaren, the band provoked controversies that both captivated and appalled Britain. Their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organizers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem. Through an obscenity-laced television interview in December 1976 and their May 1977 single "God Save the Queen", attacking Britons' social conformity and deference to the Crown, they precipitated one of the more significant pop culture-based moral panics.

In January 1978, at the end of a turbulent tour of the United States, Rotten left the band and announced its break-up. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren's film version of the Sex Pistols' story, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979, following his arrest for the alleged murder of his girlfriend. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; through 2008, they staged further reunion shows and tours. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they refused to attend the ceremony, calling the museum "a piss stain".

Succès de scandale

Succès de scandale (French for "success from scandal") is a term for any artistic work whose success is attributed, in whole or in part, to public controversy surrounding the work. In some cases the controversy causes audiences to seek out the work for its titillating content, while in others it simply heightens public curiosity. This concept is echoed by the phrase, "there is no such thing as bad publicity".

Theo van Doesburg

Theo van Doesburg (Dutch: [ˈteːjoː vɑn ˈduzbɵrx], 30 August 1883 – 7 March 1931) was a Dutch artist, who practiced painting, writing, poetry and architecture. He is best known as the founder and leader of De Stijl. He was married to artist, pianist and choreographer Nelly van Doesburg.

Walter Serner

Walter Serner (15 January 1889 – August 1942) was a German-language writer and essayist. His manifesto Letzte Lockerung was an important text of Dadaism.

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