From Latin bohemius, the term Bohemia it has different meanings. The word is associated with lifestyle that deviates from social conventions and that privileges the art and the culture over material things. By extension, a bohemian person is one who leads this kind of life. For instance: “Juan is a bohemian, he lives in a train car and is dedicated to painting”, “Bohemian nights were a classic of the Paris of the ’60s”.
These uses of the term also make it possible to refer to bohemia in general, such as the community of people who live this way: “The bohemian of Buenos Aires met at Café Tortoni”, “After the closure of the cultural center, bohemia has lost its main refuge”.
A historical region
Bohemia is a region of the Czech Republic that borders Poland, Austria and Germany. It is surrounded by mountain ranges and has industry, agriculture and mining as the main sectors of its economy. Bohemia manufactures automobiles, iron, machinery and other products that are exported to various regions of the world, even beyond European borders.
From this derives the name that was later given to the homonymous cultural movement since from this region numerous groups of gypsies left for France and other European countries and that were characterized by present lives and social values absolutely different from those of the rest of the people.
The first bohemians
In this way, the intellectuals that emerged from these groups began to be known as bohemians and later the concept was extended to all those who lead a disheveled lifestyle and that went against the values considered as fundamental.
The bohemians, in addition to leading messy lives, sleeping anywhere and spending a lot of time without eating and not caring about the needs of the world, had a free way of thinking, were atheists or agnostics and criticized the lifestyle of the aristocracy. All this made them more repudiated by those who controlled the societies.
The concept in literature
In the history of literature there have been various movements that they were led by people who had lifestyles that differed greatly from how most people did and who, although they did not share the same ideas, could find themselves in the bohemia to confront “normal” values imposed by the great social powers.
In Paris during the eighteenth century there was a condensed group of authors who lived almost in destitution conditions and dedicating himself absolutely to literature that led the writer Henri Murger to write his famous work “Scenes of life in Bohemia”, which became a kind of treatise for those who wanted to reveal themselves to dogmatic customs and ideas.
The Spanish bohemians
In Spain, more precisely in Madrid, an important Bohemian movement existed during the nineteenth century in which authors of various tendencies merged: realistic, naturalistic, avant-garde. Among them were writers from the Generation of ’98, the Novecentismo and the Generation of ’27, among others. In an extremely difficult time for letters, times of dictatorship and censorshipDespite this, literature flourished in the low and high neighborhoods and spread throughout the city.
It is worth mentioning that many authors recorded what life was like for bohemian authors, such is the case that works such as “Adventures, inventions and mystifications of Silvestre Paradox”, written by Pío Baroja, or “Luces de bohemia” by the author Valle-Inclán , allow us to deeply approach this time. But surely the work that best recreates this period It is «The masks of the hero», by Juan Manuel de Prada.