By Miranda Gill
What did it suggest to name a person 'eccentric' in nineteenth-century Paris? And why did breaking with conference arouse such ambivalent responses in middle-class readers, writers, and spectators? From excessive society to Bohemia and the demi-monde to the madhouse, the scandal of nonconformism provoked anxiousness, disgust, and sometimes secre craving. In a tradition preoccupied via the necessity for order ye concurrently attracted to the values of freedom and innovation, eccentricity regularly proven the limits of bourgeois identification, finally changing into inseparable from it. This interdisciplinary learn charts transferring French perceptions of the anomalous and weird from the 1830s to the fin de siècle, concentrating on 3 key matters. First, throughout the July Monarchy eccentricity was once associated with style dandyism, and commodity tradition; to many Parisians it epitomized the harmful seductions of modernity and the turning out to be status of the courtesan. moment, within the aftermath of the 1848 Revolution eccentricity used to be linked to the Bohemian artists and performers who inhabited 'the unknown Paris', a area of social exclusion which middle-class spectators discovered either interesting and repugnant. eventually, the popularization of scientific theories of nationwide decline within the latter a part of the century resulted in reducing tolerance for person distinction, and eccentricity used to be interpreted as a symptom of hidden madness and deformity. Drawing on a variety of resources, together with etiquette manuals, model magazines, newspapers, novels, and psychiatric treatises, the learn highlights the imperative position of gender in shaping perceptions of eccentricity. It presents new readings of works through significant French writers and illuminates either famous and missed figures of Parisian modernity, from the courtesan and Bohemian to the feminine dandy and circus freak.
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