History of subcultures in the 19th century  

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Ubu Roi (King Ubu) is a play developed by Alfred Jarry premiered on December 10 1896, and is widely acknowledged as a theatrical precursor to the Absurdist, Dada and Surrealist art movements.
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Ubu Roi (King Ubu) is a play developed by Alfred Jarry premiered on December 10 1896, and is widely acknowledged as a theatrical precursor to the Absurdist, Dada and Surrealist art movements.
Negroes Fighting in a Tunnel at Night (1882) by Paul Bilhaud, here shown in the 1887 version appropriated by Alphonse Allais as published in Album primo-avrilesque (April fool-ish Album)
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Negroes Fighting in a Tunnel at Night (1882) by Paul Bilhaud, here shown in the 1887 version appropriated by Alphonse Allais as published in Album primo-avrilesque (April fool-ish Album)
Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884), a composition by Alphonse Allais. It consists of nine blank measures and predates comparable works by John Cage ("4′33″") by a considerable margin.
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Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884), a composition by Alphonse Allais. It consists of nine blank measures and predates comparable works by John Cage ("4′33″") by a considerable margin.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) is an icon of 19th century literature
Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) (portrait by Etienne Carjat, ca. 1863)
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Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) (portrait by Etienne Carjat, ca. 1863)
This page History of subcultures in the 19th century is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
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This page History of subcultures in the 19th century is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

While counterculture (from Prometheus to Diogenes, from Socrates to Jesus Christ, from Galileo to Voltaire to Che Guevara) can be found in all ages, subcultures -- having the connotation of city culture -- properly start in the 19th century, and more precise in Nineteenth century Paris, as Walter Benjamin noted, the capital of modernity.

The Industrial Revolution and the Belle Époque bring 19th century cities the greatest development in its history. From the 1840s, rail transport allowed an unprecedented flow of migrants attracted by employment in the new industries in the suburbs. The city also became a safe haven for sexual minorities.

The different aspects of this 19th century history include a) politics, b) sexuality and lifestyle and c) the arts:

Contents

Political

Alternative societies

alternative societies

A number of philosophers also suggested alternative models for society: Charles Fourier (1772-1837), Louis Blanc (1811-1882) and Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881). The background of alternative social thinking stems largely from the history of utopianism.

Anarchism

Anarchism

The French Pierre-Joseph Proudhon is regarded as the first self-proclaimed anarchist, a label he adopted in his groundbreaking work What is Property?, published in 1840. It is for this reason that some claim Proudhon as the founder of modern anarchist theory.

Communism

Communism

Communism is a revolutionary socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order. This movement, in its Marxist–Leninist interpretations, significantly influenced the history of the 20th century, which saw intense rivalry between the "socialist world" (socialist states ruled by communist parties) and the "Western world" (countries with capitalist economies).


Sexuality and lifestyle

Bohemianism

Bohemianism

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.

The term bohemian was first used in the nineteenth century to describe a subculture of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians, and actors in major European cities. The bohemian lifestyle is often associated with coffeehouses, drug use (particularly opium), alcoholism, and absinthe. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which were expressed through free love and voluntary poverty.

The term emerged in 19th century France when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent (the proverbial garret), lower class gypsy neighbourhoods. The term "Bohemian" reflects a belief, widely held in France at the time, that the Gypsies had come from Bohemia.

The first usage of the term Bohemianism in its current meaning was by French journalist Félix Pyat in 1834 in an article called "Les artistes". He derogatorily described this personality type as "alien and bizarre ... outside the law, beyond the reaches of society ... they are the Bohemians of today" (tr. Levi Asher). The term became commonplace in the 1850s when the writer Henri Murger began publishing and staging a series of stories called La Vie de Bohème which would eventually become the world-known Puccini opera La bohème.

Homosexuality

Homosexuality

Executions for sodomy continued in the Netherlands until 1803, and in England until 1835.

Between 1864 and 1880 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published a series of twelve tracts, which he collectively titled Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love. In 1867, he became the first self-proclaimed homosexual person to speak out publicly in defense of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws. Sexual Inversion by Havelock Ellis, published in 1896, challenged theories that homosexuality was abnormal, as well as stereotypes, and insisted on the ubiquity of homosexuality and its association with intellectual and artistic achievement.

Club des Hashischins

Club des Hashischins

The Club des Hashischins (sometimes also spelled Club des Hashishins or Club des Hachichin), was a Parisian group dedicated to the exploration of drug-induced experiences, notably with hashish, usually taken orally, under the form dawamesk.

It was active from about 1844 to 1849 and counted the literary and intellectual elite of Paris among its members, including Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Gérard de Nerval, Eugène Delacroix and Alexandre Dumas, père. Monthly "séances" were held at the Hôtel de Lauzun, the house of painter Fernand Boissard on the Île Saint-Louis.

Gautier wrote about the club in an article entitled "Le Club des Hachichin" published in the Revue des Deux Mondes in February 1846, recounting his recent visit. While he is often cited as the founder of the club, in the article his says he was attending their séances for the first time that evening and made clear that others were sharing a familiar experience with him.

New Woman

New Woman

The New Woman was a feminist ideal that emerged in the final decades of the 19th century in Europe and North America. It was a reaction to the gender role, as characterized by the so-called Cult of Domesticity, ascribed to women in the Victorian era. Advocates of the New Woman ideal were found among novelists, playwrights, journalists, pamphleteers, political thinkers and suffragettes. Men and women who favoured the new cause gathered, for example, in the Fabian Society in the United Kingdom, a precursor of the Labour Party. The supporters' aim was to encourage women to liberate themselves from male domination, manage their lives and leave behind anything that might restrict their pursuit of happiness and self-realization. Heavily opposed by conservatives, the New Woman movement started to fade away in the course of the First World War when, due to a shortage of "manpower", many women took on jobs and when, shortly after the war, universal suffrage was achieved.

Artistic

19th century art and literature

Romanticism

Romanticism

Romanticism (or the Romantic Era) was an 19th century artistic and intellectual movement which stressed emotion, freedom, individuality and imagination. In part, it was a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalisation of nature, and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education and natural history.

Bouzingo

Bouzingo

The Bouzingo was the name given to a group of minor Romantic poets, novelists, and artists active in France during the 1830s. They were associated with the Petit cénacle and the Jeune-France and were given an tremendous amount of attention in the contemporary press, which was at that time in the early stages of becoming a mass medium. Its members were Petrus Borel, Gérard de Nerval, Théophile Gautier, Philothée O'Neddy, Xavier Forneret and Aloysius Bertrand.

Their history is told in great detail in the doctoral thesis Pétrus Borel: Background, Reception and Interpretation (1999).

Salon des Refusés

Salon des Refusés

The Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Rejected) was an art exhibition in Paris.

In the 1860s, artists of the nascent realist and impressionist movements submitted works to the Salon de Paris, the official exhibition sponsored by the Académie des beaux-arts, selection committee only to be rejected. The resultant complaints of bias led French emperor Napoleon III to allow the rejected works to be displayed in a separate exhibition.

The first Salon des Refusés on May 17 1863 invited art-works rejected for display at the Paris Salon of 1863.

Most were poor quality, leading to ridicule in the press. However, the exhibition included several important paintings including Édouard Manet's Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) and James McNeill Whistler's The White Girl. Other artists who showed at the Salon des Refusés include Henri Fantin-Latour, Paul Cézanne, Armand Guillaumin, Johan Jongkind, and Camille Pissarro.

Salon des Refusés was held in 1874, 1875 and 1886. In 1881 the government withdrew official sponsorship, and a group of artists organised the Société des artistes français to take responsibility for the Salon de Paris.

Symbolism

Symbolism (arts)

Symbolism was a late 19th century European movement of French and Belgian origin in poetry and other arts. It overlaps significantly with the Decadent movement and the Aesthetic movement and was present all over Europe and Russia.

Decadent movement

Decadent movement

In fin de siècle Europe, the Decadents were a group of artists who rejected the Modernist trend towards realism and continued the Romantic tradition of irrationalism. The term decadent was a term of abuse by French critics which the decadents adopted triumphantly. The Symbolist and Aesthetic movements were contemporary and similar. The classic novel from this group is Joris-Karl Huysmans's Against Nature, often seen as the first great Decadent work, though others attribute this honor to Baudelaire's poetry.

In Britain the leading figures associated with the Decadent movement were Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley and some artists and writers associated with The Yellow Book. In the United States, the brothers Edgar and Francis Saltus wrote decadent fiction and poetry.

Wilde paid a high price for his "decadence" by being sent to jail for allegations of homosexuality. By the first decade of the 20th century, this movement was over, some of its influences still lingering on in Art Nouveau.

Incoherents

Incoherents

The Incoherents (Les Arts Incohérents) was a short-lived French art movement founded in 1882 by Parisian writer and publisher Jules Lévy, which anticipated many of the art techniques and satirical attitudes commonly attributed to later avant-garde art movements. The "art movement" included the film animator Émile Cohl and spawned seminal works such as Negroes Fighting in a Tunnel at Night (1882), Mona Lisa Smoking a Pipe (1883) and Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884).

Alfred Jarry and 'Pataphysics

Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry (1873 – 1907) was a French writer best-known for his play Ubu Roi (1896) and its incipit 'merdre'. Jarry wrote in a variety of genres and styles. He wrote plays, novels, poetry, essays and speculative journalism. His texts present some pioneering work in the field of absurdist literature. Master of the grotesque, he also invented a pseudoscience called 'Pataphysics.

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