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THE INDEPENDENCE AND THE FANTASY: NEGOTIATING BOHEMIAN IDENTITY IN THE FIN DE SICLE MONTMARTRE CABARET BY ANDREW KOTICK A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts in History Under the sponsorship of David A. Harvey Sarasota, Florida May, 2013
ii Poster for the cabaret artistique Le Chat noir by Theophile Alexandre Steinlen. Color lithograph. 53.5 x 37.76. Paris, 1896.
Acknowledgments, or dramatis personae iii Trite as it may be, I did not write, nor could I have written this thesis alone. As social creatures, we invest so much of ourselves in other people, and this project is a textual culmination of so many different peoples comings and goings in the past four years, four wickedly important and formative years of my life. I cannot find the right word or measure to express enough gratitude and love. Foremost I would like to thank my family: my mother Sandy, sister Lauren, beau frre Johnny, and father David, who are so stubbornly resolute in their love and support for me and the decisions I make, no matter how far we diverge in perspective, and no matter how ill informed and impulsive I can be. That my niece Ava has entered my life so recently this past year has only bettered the experience and gratitude I feel in being able to call you my family. Thank you furthermore to my committee, David Harvey, Amy Reid, and Brendan Goff, who have shaped my intellectual, emotional, and personal growth as a junior scholar, student, friend, and critical thinker beyond any reasonable expression here. You all have given meaning to the work I do and have helped me to realize the entirety of my personhood to extremes beyond the academy To have worked with you has been an honor a nd pleasure that I, in retrospect, cannot fathom having done without these past years. The direction and sound advice and, in times of crisis, compassion, youve provided is immeasurable and cannot ever be forgotten. I feel privileged to have contributed a t least some degree of goodwill, good faith, and hopefully, a few irreverent and droll jokes in your lives as well. The friendships beyond the classroom and library that I have cultivated here have been, in a word, immense, and in good times and bad, I fe el immeasurably grateful to
Acknowledgments, or dramatis personae iv have lived the reality I call my own. Jon Weinberg, Elizabeth Burger, Kathleen McQueeney, Lacey Sigmon, Alison Parks, Mike Long, Max Imberman, Lucas Ballestin, Estefan Rodriguez, Evan Giomi, Andrea Brody Barre, Liz Hampton, Tess Somerville, Brian Stanwyck, Roger Filmeyer, Grayson Chester, Bennet Bastian, the entirety of the court soccer contingent, Adrian Rosario, Jake Paiva, Mackenzie Pawliger, Lauren Brenzel, Sandy Werb Ashley Parks, Jehan Sinclair, Meagan P atrick, Maya Praff, Juan Elias, Melissa Rettig Tim Duff, the students of the History and French departments, and so many others, you have styled and shaped my sense of self as a friend through thick and thin, through struggles and joys. I can only conjure love at such a cru cial moment in our lives. Thank you all so much, let these pages be my manifesto for the four years where we have all learned so much from one another Pour le reste de ma vie, je vous porte dedans. Merci tous, les amis.
v THE INDEPENDENCE AND THE FANTASY: NEGOTIATING BOHEMIA N IDENTITY IN THE FIN DE SICLE MONTMARTRE CABARET Andrew Kotick New College of Florida, May 2013 ABSTRACT This thesis examines the establishments known collectively as cabarets artistiques that emerged and proliferated throughout the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre at the end of the nineteenth century as a cultural medium for negotiating relations between the bourgeois and bohemian sects of urban society there. It problematizes the self articulated function of the cabaret as the primary visual and cultural medium for constructing bohemian identity in fin de sicle Paris, by interrogating the manifold ways in which it reinforced bourgeois norms and values while ostensibly trying to decons truct, satirize, and subvert them in an effort to codify the cabaret as bohemian space. The thesis individual chapters represent the material, ideological, and sociocultural betrayals of bohemian artifice by collectively exposing the cabarets commodification of Montmartres historical memory as well as topical trends in the discourse of bourgeois bohemian relations, primarily in the public political arena.
vi Ultimately the thesis aims to demonstrate the bourgeoisies profitable commercial reification of Pa ris bohemian and subversive pasts, allowing entrepreneurial cabaret proprietors to present the cabaret as an authentic and historically valid bohemian experience mouthpiece for Paris marginalized popular classes while participating in the proliferating a nd novel forms of commercial entertainment and public pleasure that characterized urban bourgeois society in the finde sicle city. Such developments signify bohemias status, as it existed and operated in the Montmartre cabaret, as a bourgeois invention. ________________________________ Dr. David A. Harvey Division of Social Sciences
Table of Contents vii I. Acknowle dgments....iii II. Abstr act..v III. Table of C ontents.vii IV. Introduction........1 V. Chapter One: The Bobo Paradise: Urban Change and Montmartrois Identity in Fin de Sicle Paris. VI. Chapter Two: Une vritable Fte foutre : Cabaret and Historical Memory in Bohemia n Montmartre.....37 VII. Chapter Three: Nombreux les philistins, rares les femmes : Gendering Bohemia in the Montmartr e Cabaret ........76 VIII. Conclus ion.....114 IX. Index of I mages.........118 X. Bibliography ......127
Introduction 1 In 1888, Emile Goudeau, editor of the Journal du Chat Noir in attempting to satirically explain Rodolphe Salis s reasons for founding the Montmartre cabaret of the same name, wrote an anecdote in his book Dix ans de bohme in which a young, artistically inclined Salis tries to reveal his life goals to his father. Salis s father in this episode, upon hearing of Rodolphes interests in fine arts and letters expresses his dis approval. In response, he callously issues young Rodol phe the dict ate, fais du commerce! 1 Goudeau goes on to elaborate that such an order provided Salis the impetus to found a cabaret in Montmartre, the northernmost periphery of the city of Paris, by then already implicitly e stablished in the text as the citys principal ente rtainment and pleasure district where similar, older establishments known as cafs concerts provided a commercial model for Salis to follow Goudeau, however claims there to be a certain, ambiguous ennui to be present in the state of convivial pleasure in Montmartre at the time, noting that there the pain t ers met without any making too much noise as they might have done on the boulevard and that Salis thought to reintroduce turmoil, madne ss, and ironcovered songs into our watered down mores .2 However playfully commonplace Goudeaus a necdote may seem, it is rather telling of the complex discourse and mentality that contextualized the founding of the Chat Noir, the first and arguably the most renowned of Montmartres cabarets artistiques at the fin de sicle as well as those establishments that followed suit. This thesis is in many ways an interrogation of such conditions and the motives that drove the production and formed the cultural significance of the cabaret artistique a s an institution that 1 Emile Goudeau, Dix ans de bohme, (Paris : La Librairie Illustre, 1888), 254. 2 Ibid. This quotation, and all others unless otherwise noted, is my own t ranslation from the original French: M ais l les peintres runissaient sans tapage, comme ils leussent fait au boulevard. Salis songea rintroduire le tumulte, la folie haute, et la chanson barde de f er dans nos murs dulcores.
Introduction 2 performed Montmartres cultural identity. In his memoir here, Goudeau clearly introduces a duality between the artistic community of Montmartre, the clientele that frequented the cafs concert s and defines that collective character i n terms of spontaneity and conviviality, in stark contrast to the commercial culture of the boulevard, which he implies as having debased the poignancy of urban pleasure. Throughout Goudeaus book, that dichotomy continues to take concrete form as social r elations between two echelons of Parisian society and culture: bohemia and the bourgeoisie. Notions of bohemianbourgeois dialectical social relations as pertaining to Parisian culture at the fin de sicle and notably in Montmartre are well grounded in co ntemporary historical scholarship. Jerrold Seigel has produced perhaps the most influential critique and survey of relations between the two sects of Parisian society in his monograph, Bohemian Paris Seigels arguments here are salient and compellingly ev idenced, and as such, the work remains seminal in the field of finde sicle French cultural history. Seigel tracks the entire trajectory of bohemias existence in nineteenth century Paris as a gradual reconciliation between old and young generations of t he bourgeoisie, bohemia existing both physically and in the Parisian cultural imagination as a space for bourgeois youth rebellion to be contained, and eventually tamed. He interprets the world of the Montmartre cabaret to be a determinative phase in this process of cultural reconciliation, with Montmartres bohemian community having acquiesced to bourgeois influence and appropriating the commercial capitalist tools of commodity
Introduction 3 culture to suit their needs; in a word, the Montmartre cabaret represented bohe mia being tamed by the market.3 Seigels arguments here are compelling, insofar as they have gone unchallenged in contemporary scholarly conversations on mass culture in finde sicle Montmartre, remaining constituent theoretical components of all histori ography conducted in the field. This thesis, similarly, engages Seigel heavily, yet digresses in several crucial ways. I argue foremost that the Montmartre cabaret, as an organ of the commercialized mass consumption of cultural productions deemed represent ative of bohemian identity in Montmartre, was not a formative step in the reconciliation between bourgeois and bohemian Pa ris. I instead claim that the cultural construct in fin de sicle Paris that scholars identify to be bohemian Montmartre was the caref ul invention of the bourgeois classes, designed to mediate social relations between the two groups dialectically, according to ideological discrepancies in contemporary polemics and thus construe the bourgeois bohemian duality as both false and mutually c onstitutive In support of that assertion, I secondarily claim that the construction of a collective bohemian culture and identity through Montmartres numerous cabarets ideologically upheld the legacy of nineteenthcentury Parisian bohemianism in key rhe torical ways that maintained a discursive artifice of visual, cultural, and moral deviance from contemporary bourgeois norms of public morality However, the Montmartre cabarets collective ideological reimagining of bohemianism also reinforced bourgeois c ultural norms in s everal crucial ways that explicitly denote their capitalistic 3 Jerrold Seigel, Bohemian Paris: Culture, Politics, and the Bound aries of Bourgeois Life, 18301930, (New York: Viking, 1986), 8 30.
Introduction 4 origins as sites of commercial consumption and as such privilege bourgeois discourse in praxis despite visual pretenses of bohemianism. I maintain a discursive and temporal rup ture in cultural perceptions of the bohemian mode of life throughout nineteenthcentury Paris as a means to demonstrate that bohemian Montmartre served as the reification of the communitys past, providing an illusory image of a subversive present only to lucrative ends. The three chapters that comprise this thesis are structured in a way that situates fin de sicle Montmartres cabaret world and the tools through which it built a regional identity and culture as a momentary, successful exercise in utilizin g the tools of commercial capitalism both to generate and to commodify bourgeois Paris cultural foil. Differing greatly in scale and subject, each chapter addresses ideological and material problems in the formulation of a bohemian identity intrinsic to fin de si cle Montmartre as a means to expose the modes in which cabaret life reinforced bourgeois cultural normativity and belied its articulated pretenses of cultural subversion. My first chapter examines the political and cultural conditions that enable d any collective culture of a bohemian Montmartre built around its primary organ of the ca baret artistique to take form at the fin de sicle and arguably, the physical manifestation of bourgeois normativity in Montmartres cabaret circle I argue here that systematic changes in the physical and social landscape of urban space in nineteenth century Paris constituted a disruption in the historical continuity and development of a bohemian community in the city. Extensive efforts at the renewal and modernizati on of Paris topography and infrastructure, particularly those implemented under the direction of the Prefect of Paris under Louis Napoleon, Baron Georges Eugne Haussmann,
Introduction 5 ultimately uprooted established bohemian communities from the central districts of the city in the Latin Quarter and displaced them to the northern peripheries of Paris, including the faubourg Montmartre Such efforts at urban renewal had considerable cultural ramifications upon the ordering of social space in Paris and in part galvanize d the city centers gentrification. The eventual commercialization of this new, monumental Parisian space and proliferation of boulevards conflated gentrification and the major modes of bourgeois culture with Parisian modernity. I further maintain that the displacement of bohemia to Montmartre effectively rendered the neighborhood a liminal space between the bourgeois urban core of Paris and its hinterland, which eventually opened new avenues for commercial expansion, through the commodity and spectacle cultures of the modern citys boulevard, into the hill. I construe the establishment of cafs and concert halls in Paris, prior to the advent of the cabaret, as the bourgeoisies outward expansion and permeation into Montmartres culture. Ultimately, the c reation of the cabaret artistique as a cultural form in Montmartre, I argue, materialized the integration of the district into the commercialized and modern Paris nouveau and thus, the domain of the bourgeoisie while remaining a liminal space to mediate b etween the two historically distinct divisions If my first chapter embraces the material and physical aspects of bohemias contingency upon bourgeois norms and culture, the second chapter interrogates the production of bohemian discourse and ideology in t he cabaret and its commodification of Montmartres historical memory as a means to articulate the authenticity of the cabarets collective bohemianism. In this chapter I argue that historical consciousness within cabaret life and discourse sought to legit imate Montmartrois bohemian identity as a
Introduction 6 his torically informed legacy to a subversive national past. I examine the aesthetic and ideological uses of historical narratives of political and social violence in the cabarets Le Mirliton and Taverne du Bagne, f oremost as a means to establish bohemianisms subversive condition vis vis bourgeois cultural normativity in Paris, but also for the novel and fantastical implications as marketing strategies to a bourgeois public. The second component of this chapter c onsiders the ideological production of fumisme within the cabarets Le Chat Noir and Les QuatzArts as a mode of imaging and codifying bohemian identity in Montmartre Fumisme, I maintain, served both to delineate a concrete behavioral politics for bohemian Montmartre based on humor and the suspension of everyday structures of social order and to relate the fin sicle cabaret to the canonical French literary tradition of the Rabelaisian carnival. I conclude in this chapter that historical memory fulfilled the construction of an artifice of bohemian difference from bourgeois commercial culture and diverted public attentions towards a momentary fantasy and spectacle and helped reify Montmartres cultural identity and Paris historical bohemian tradition as mod ern reproductions of the past, belying the commercial mode of production that drove the cabarets operations. The third chapter of this thesis presents perhaps the most salient evidence of the ways in which the cabarets collective construction of bohemian culture in Montmartre reinforced bourgeois cultural normativity, where illusion could obfuscate how everyday structures of power were reproduced within a culture that ostensibly sought to invert them. I argue here that the cabarets collective mediation o f gender norms and gendered coding of bohemian space largely reflected contemporary bourgeois norms of sociability across gender divides. I claim that the Montmartre cabarets cooperatively coded
Introduction 7 bohemian identity a masculine existence and the cabaret, as a bohemian institution, a masculine space, ascertaining bohemian prerogatives to be exclusively male. As such, I assert that women fulfilled complex and crucial roles within bohemian Montmartre culture, but never attained equal status as bohemians themselve s and were discouraged from assuming the explicitly masculinized lifestyle of bohemian artistic production. The visual codification of bohemian femininity and womens roles uphold these notions, the imagination of an ideal bohemian feminine sexuality that rendered women as morally ambiguous and subversively tempting sexual threats to the bohemian man proving the most salient medium for the construction of Montmartroise feminine cultural types that sought to define normative behaviors for women in the bohem ian social sphere. The second component of my argument in this chapter reorients its focus away from male codifications of bohemian cultural normativity regarding gender relations and towards feminine transgressions of bohemian protocol for sociability within the cabaret. I argue that the poet Marie Krysinska, noted among scholars to be a female exception to the cabarets enforced codes of male social homogeneity, subverted contemporary expectations of bohemian femininity, particularly by asserting her artistic merit among ma le counterparts and furthermore by eclipsing heteronormative gender dynamics of sexuality within her poetry and removing masculine influence altogether from her nominally bohemian work. Such transgressions of rigidly defined social norms for bohemian culture I maintain, prompted her omission from and debasement within the cabaret elite, on no grounds other than her femininity and overt identity as a woman who did not adhere to prescribed norms for how a bohemian woman should have acted. Secondarily, I reco nsider Krysinskas tangential mention in the collected historiography
Introduction 8 of gender in fin de sicle bohemian Montmartre, positing that historical representations of gender relations there have largely upheld the schema and artifice of its articulated bohemian character. Together, I hope my arguments in these chapters convey the extent to which bourgeois mores and influence pervaded cabaret life in fin de sicle Montmartre. I maintain that the construction of bohemian identity provided a pretense through whic h public attentions were diverted from the material, discursive, and cultural presence that bourgeois structures and modes of conduct held in the cabarets operations. Bohemia, as construed in the context of Montmartre at the fin de sicle, was a mechanism of commercial pleasure and entertainment marketed to a bourgeois audience and was ther e fore fundamentally the invention of the bourgeoisie. Bohemianism was thus conceived less as a contemporary reality and alternate vision of Parisian modernity than it wa s the commodification of Montmartres collective past, its cultural identity only superficially and ephemerally disruptive to everyday life and the franchise that enforced it.
Chapter One 9 The Bobo Paradise: Urban Change and Montmartrois Identity in Fin de Sicle Paris The first chapter of this thesis seeks to situate the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre, self consciously styled as the citys nucleus of artistic and alternative modes of life, in a sociocultural context of urban transformation and emergent ideas of modern urban culture that defined Parisian life at the fin de sicle. As part of this thesiss larger project, I aim to explore the relationship between Montmartres collectively construed cultural identity as a site for bohemian life, vis vis the public commercial establishments stylized as cabaret s artistiques which became Montmartres primary organ for constructing and performing its cultural identity and typified the areas bohemian way of life, and the conditions of modern urban life that largely shaped its ideological self rationalization as such. I formulate this chapters arguments in response to Jerrold Seigel who in his book Bohemian Paris perhaps the most inf luential and engaged study in the field of popular culture in nineteenth century Paris, asserts that Montmartres cabaret culture exemplified a historical continuity in the reconciliation between the Parisian bourgeois and bohemian societies .4 Though I maintain Seigels assertion regarding fin de sicle Montmartres condition as a cultural continuity, my argument s differ in several crucial ways. I understand Montmartres cabaret culture not as a step towards reconciliation between bourgeois P aris and bohemia, but rather interpret bohemian Montmartre, and therefore its cabarets and their institutional cultures, as the invention of the Parisian bourgeois classes. I maintain that the cabaret artistique as a commercial establishment through which the Mont martre community could articulate its cultural identity, reinforced 4 Jerrold Seigel, Bohemian Paris, 8 16.
Chapter One 10 structures and cultural norms typical of the Parisian bourgeoisie, despite nominally and rhetorically asserting otherwise. As such, Montmartre bohemianism, as expressed within the cabaret artistique represents in this study not only a continuity in the emergence and production of new cultural forms that constituted the basis for cultural understandings of Parisian modernity in both bohemian and bourgeois social spheres, but also a historic al rupture in cultural understandings of bohemian life. I thus maintain that the bohemian experience available within the Montmartre cabaret artistique was not an authentically bohemian way of life, as it did not reinforce earlier nineteenth century narrat ives of bohemian living conditions but rather momentarily reified and reproduced clichd tropes of artistic production, poverty, and threats to Parisian cultural status quos as consumable spectacles and forms of commercial pleasure. While the later chapters of this thesis more thoroughly examine the cultural aspects of the cabarets collective interpretations of bohemianism as an oppositional force to bourgeois influence and power in Paris at the fin de sicle, this chapter rather interrogates the conditio ns of contemporary urban life that contextualized the cultural significance of the cabaret, both as a site of commercial consumption and space for articulating and performing Montmartre bohemian identity. It engages the scholarly conversations of urban tra nsformation in Paris as well as the development of urban public space as a form of spectacle both as expressions in the development of a contemporary discourse of Parisian modernity to clarify the cultural role of the Montmartre cabaret. As such, I argue t hat the physical, discursive, and cultural manifestations of urban change that were contemporaneously conflated with notions of modernization, reflected Paris
Chapter One 11 integration into the bourgeois cultural sphere and thus framed a context and cultural foil through which bohemian identity could be reinvented. S uch argum ents I hope will better clarify the vocabulary of this thesis as well as that of the relevant contemporary historiography admittedly dense and multifaceted in their questioning of popular cultures role in negotiating competing visions of Parisian identity. U ltimately this chapter upholds the notion that fin de sicle Montmartre, as a community whose identity was contingent upon the success of the commercial establishments that produced and performed that identity, was the ideological invention of the Parisian bourgeois classes and consequently reinforced bourgeois cul tural normativity. The cabaret and Montmartres collectiv e relationship to popularly conceived forms of commercial entertainment, urban development, and the social implications of these developments as visions of modernity are crucial to mediating the significance of Montmartres cultural identity as a site of b ohemian life. I. Urban Transformation and the Rupture in the Continuity of Bohemian Paris If we are to observe Jerrold Seigels claim that bohemian Montmartre, at the fin de sicle, represents a historical continuity in the physical, ideological, and spatia l dynamics among the Parisian bourgeoisie, it is crucial to understand the transformation of conditions of urban life in Paris throughout the course of the nineteenth century, as the citys growth pertains to both shifts in narratives of bohemian lif e there and popularly conceived notions of modernity. Indeed, Paris at the fin de sicle was a city that bore little resemblance to the urban center that it was earlier in the nineteenth century, and that state of constant urban transformation largely info rmed Montmartres cultural identity as
Chapter One 12 a mediator of bohemian life. I assert that the narrative of Paris spatial transformation throughout the nineteenth century into an elite and markedly middle class metropolis adequately explains the discursive and cul tural disjuncture between Montmartre bohemianism at the fin de sicle and the bohemian culture situated else where in Paris that preceded it. Popular nineteenthcentury representations of Parisian bohemian life like Henri Murgers Scnes de la vie de boh m e effectively frame the conditions of bohemian life in Paris as one of hardship and provide perhaps the most salient portrait of what urban living conditions were like in the nineteenth century city. However, it is indeed imperative to note that represent ations of popular bohemia and the emergence of the bohemian as a social archetype are indeed just that: culturally imagined representations of specific aspects of urban life within the Parisian underclass communities. Several tropes emerged in mid nineteenth century popular literature that depicted bohemia as an integral, if problematic and undes irable aspect of daily Parisian life via the works of Murger which ultimately gave bohemia its contemporary image in the popular imagination and sparked public outcry towards its violation of appropriate standards of living and social decorum.5 Situated not in Montmartre, but rather in the centrally located Latin Quarter, Murgers vision of bohemia n Paris exemplified its sociocultural other ness in the French popular imagination.6 According to Murger, popular bohemia was primarily working class its name a calque from immigrant communities, particularly Romani, that had settled in Paris and whose living conditions as immigrants found 5 Mary Gluck, Theorizing the Cultural Roots of the Bohemian Artist, in Modernism/Modernity 7, no. 3 (2000): 351354. 6 Jerrold Seigel, Bohemian Paris, 3657.
Chapter One 13 themselves replicated in popular bohemias urban squalor the nominal comparison with gypsy communities cementing popular per ceptions of bohemianisms ostensible social rootlessness Given bohemias centrality in the scope of popular revolts in Paris during the insurrections of 1830 and 1848, it existed within the French public psyche as a culturally alien community, an ambiguous poor, and potential ly violent criminal and politically radical threat to Parisian ways of life.7 The squalid living conditions in which bohemia existed only reinforced such notions of otherness and reflected a broader problem of ur ban sanitation in Paris, and helped construe bohemian culture as subversive: lacking any sophisticated infrastructure for sanitation, housing, and transport, bohemia constituted a state of perpetual economic deprivation and thus, unrest.8 Bohemians existed as petty merchant s unskilled industrial workers, or as unemployed migrant laboring populations living in overcrowded, decrepit tenements with no organized streets or road structure. Economic need rendered bohemian gender relations a subversion of normative Parisian gender roles, with the popular imagination entertaining perhaps the essential cultural type of the dangerous bohemian: the grisette, typified as a young working woman that constituted the bulk of bohemia s labor force as both unskilled labor and as a sex worker, with bohemian men confined to no other means of existence than art itself.9 While intellectual historian of nineteenth century France Mary Gluck points out that many contradictions arose in the Parisian public mind concerning Murgers bohemias romantic ized, carefree lifestyle as a defining aspect of modern life, such 7 Ibid., 36. 8 Ibid., 5456. 9 Ibid., 4041 and 53.
Chapter One 14 representations of Parisian bohemia as seen in Murgers work and Seigels seminal analysis of it ultimately reflect bohemias cultural otherness in Parisian sociopolitical discourses.10 Se igel notes the hostility with which bohemia was treated in the French press : vilified as a community of cultural foreigners and threat to the French nation, a hotbed for potential political radicalism and upheaval, a visible transgression of Parisian publi c morality and gender norms, and the most salient indicator of a Parisian problem of urban squalor attributed to cultural proclivities towards excess and vice .11 Other contemporary literary works, such as Eugne Sues Les Mystres de Paris reflect that portrait of bohemian poverty while lamenting public perspectives of urban poverty as the nucleus of Parisian criminality and political violence, solidifying bohemias role in the Parisian collective mind as one of urban lifes most c onspicuous problems and directing public attentions towards reform of such living conditions.12 When Louis Napoleon appointed the technocrat Baron Georges Eug ne Haussmann as Prefect of Paris in 1853 and charged him with the project of modernizing the city, such public conversations and concerns undoubtedly informed the design by which Haussmann went about reordering and reconstructing the entirety of the Parisian cityscape. Indeed, the Haussmanni z ation of Paris held significant ramifications on the citys social geo graphy that sought to remove the urban threats posed by bohemia, with perhaps more profound implications on the social stratification of Pa risian urban space that came as a result of Haussmanns project. Geographer David Harvey examines in detail the spa tial reordering of the city under Haussmann. Promoted to the public as a 10 Mary Gluck, Popularizing the Cultural Roots of the Bohemian Artist, 351. 11 Jerrold Seigel, Bohemian Paris, 41. 12 Richard Daniel Lehan, The City in Literature: An Intelle ctual and Cultural History (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1998), 55.
Chapter One 15 thorough effort to beautify the city as a testament to the Napoleonic Empire, Haussmanns reconstruction of Paris ultimately also amounted to the citys gentrification, though that wa s not its primary motive .13 Working class and low income neighborhoods, those places of origin for Parisian bohemia, were entirely razed, and the city center became a network of grands boulevards ,14 uniform in width and architectural aesthetic, manifold green space, and complex infrastructural reforms for public utilities and sanitation, giving the city of Paris more or less its current form unto the present day.15 Nominally, such a project appeared utilitarian and b eneficial to the urban populace. H owever reconstruction on such a great scale carried profound sociopolitica l consequences. The displacement of the Parisian underclasses rendered the citys workingclass population geographically and soci oeconomically marginalized to the outer neighborhoods of the Parisian periphery, the faubourgs as they could not afford the inflated rents of the newly developed real estate in the urban core. Haussmanns financial patronage through wealthy investors and bureaucrats ultimately led to his redistribution of new properties in the central districts to these benefactors and affiliates and consequently the Parisian center was flooded with massive amounts of newfound wealth, inflating the cost o f living and furt her driving the citys underclas ses northward and eastward towards the most affordable peripheral faubourgs Among these communities was the Commune de Montmartre ( commune designating the administrative status of a municipality). 13 David Havey, Paris, Capital of Modernity, (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 120. 14 Ibid., 4043. 15 Vanessa Schwartz, Spectacular Realities: Early Mas s Culture in Fin de Sicle Paris (Berkeley and Los Angeles : University of California Press, 1998), 1619.
Chapter One 16 Until 1863, when it was formally annexed into the city of Paris Montmartre had been an independent town with a somewhat complex cultural identity, a liminal space between Paris urban center and its rural, rustic hinterland. Situated on and around the hill, or butte Montmartre, the community reflected the spaces liminality. A popular bohemian history of the neighborhood published in 1897 attempting to explore Montmartres ancient origins to furnish some sense of regional identity and pride among the Montmartrois community provides some notable anecdotal evidence as to the character of the faubourg prior to Haussmanns renewal project. According to this history of o ld (which is implied in the text to mean pre modern) Montmartre, t he commune had since the Roman occupation of Lutetia (Paris) been the site of an abbey dedicated to Saint Denis s martyrdom, and the hill had always retained some cursory religious significance, but was primarily considered a rustic, milling community and given its exemption from the citys alcohol ta xes, a popular drinking spot where local monast e ries also doubled as vintners.16 While the history presents a largely sentimental portrait of Montmartre as an idyllic hamlet unscathed by the industrialization of the Parisian core and the commercialism of those responsible for mechanization, it provides significant commentary on the communitys landscape in contrast to Haussmanns Paris. The author, Georges Renault, notes the windmills and tortuous streets iconic status as symbols of the communitys rustic agrarian identity and resistance to Parisian urbanization. With the massive influx of urban laboring populations and expansion of the Parisian boundaries northward to the hills southern end, as well as Haussmanns construction of the 16 See Georges Renault and Henri Chateau, Montmartre, (Paris: Librairie Ernest Flammarion, 1897), 4881 for the Roman origins of Montmartres religious significance and medieval abbey, and 8295 for the eighteenth century development of drinking culture and the historical significance of the windmill or moulin as a visual sig nifier of Montmartres spatially ambiguous environs between Paris urban center and rural hinterland.
Chapter One 17 boulevards Rochechouart and Clichy along that barrier, the communitys rustic identity was inevitably transformed and became a nucleus for social tensions and resentment against the embourgeoisement of the city. Such a shift heightened the collective sense of liminality within the commune as while much of the butte itself was not altered by Haussmanns redesign, its border with the city was rigidly appropriated into the new urban schema and enveloped by his boulevards and monumental urban aesthetic, while the symbols of its rustic past remained a visual testament to a completely different identity .17 (See Figure 1.1) These sociopolit ical tensions between the newly settled urban workers in Montmartre and the Parisian forces behind the citys reordering erupted after the Fr ench defeat in the Franco Prussian War of 1871. Montmartre, by then annexed into Paris as the citys eighteenth arrondissement s erved as the seat of the municipal government for the Paris Commune in revolt against the national transitional government, popularly seen as a force for bourgeois moral order throughout the French nation. Exist ing only between the months of March and May of 1871, the Commune had in its short life effected a thorough insurrection and declaration of autonomy from the national gover nment. Montmartre served as a decisive location within the Communes revolt, governance, and fighting, two generals in the French National Guard being executed there at the revolts outbreak Claude Martin Lecomte, who had ordered the National Guard to fi re on the hill after the municipal government refused to allow troops to recover a cannon stored on the buttes peak, and Jacques Clment, whose troops had defied orders to join the siege were shot in execution atop the hill that they had ordered 17 Ibid.
Chapter One 18 fire upo n. The city streets and grands boulevards were summarily barricaded to prevent movement through the city limits Commune enacted political reforms coming out of Montmartre were similarly radical in measure, reflecting the interests of Montmartres laboring population. The abolition of night work for artisans, the remission of all rents in Paris for the duration of t he Prussian armys siege of the city, and the liberty of workers to collectivize the workplace if abandoned by its ownership all reflected Montmartres radical politics that marked Commune rule.18 The French army eventually suppressed the Commune in an unprecedented weeklong act of urban combat, retroactively labeled La Semaine sanglante, or Bloody Week While historical statistics have not determined a definitive number of those kille destimates vary between six and fifty thous and dead by the end of the week upwards of five thousand were identified as Communards, and forty thousand more tried for treason. Benedict Anderson estimates that 7,500 people were jailed or deported to the penal colony of New Caledonia for participating in events that precipitated the Communes revolt.19 In reprisal for such acts of leftist radicalism and anticlerical secularism, the national government seized Montmartres summit and ordered the construction of a basilica there as what Raymond Jonas labels a monumental appropriation of terrain and symbol of national dominance within the radical quarter and the introduction of bourgeois morality into a fundamentally immoral area of the city .20 Such a violent and volatile narrative in Montmartres c ollective history informs the 18 Prosper Olivier Lissagaray, History of the Paris Commune of 1871, Eleanor Marx, trans., (London and New York: Verso, 1886), see chapters XV, X VIII, XXIX, XXXI, and XXXIVXXXVI. 19 Benedict Anderson, In the World Shadow of Bismarck and Nobel, New Left Review 28, (Jul. Aug. 2004): Imperial Europe. 20 Raymond Jonas, Sacred Tourism and Secular Pilgrimage: Montmartre and the Basilica of SacrCoeur, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 9596.
Chapter One 19 sociopolitical and cultural climate that emerged as a rhetorical foreground for the basis of the bohemian community that appeared at the fin de sicle, as class relations and power dynamics were explicitly divide d according to demarcations of bourgeoisie and les classes ouvri res at t he time. T hese ideas largely contextualized the cabarets topical interest in Parisian politics and culture .21 Haussmanniz ation and the political problems it entailed thus represented not only a model for an ideal ized urban aesthet ic and better living conditions in formerly congested and condemned Parisian space, but also a forced re ordering of social space and urban politics The redesign of the citys aesthetic character and total overhaul of surface image and infrastructure intr oduced a rapid series of changes to the citys physicality. Haussmanns vision for Parisian modernity was therefore explicitly in form and function a bourgeois metropolis that rendered bohemia, formerly a central, if unwelcome component of urban life in the capital, a geographically, socially, and economically marginal aspect of Parisian culture. The communities seen in the public eye as bohemian had since adopted Montmartre, among other northern and eastern peripheral fa ubourgs as their homes and tensions thus grew there. The 1871 Commune erupted as a material manifestation of the divisions in political and cultural identity that urban change had fomented. This transformation of Parisian urban space thus also constitute s a rupture in the continuity of Parisian bohemianism according to Seigels arguments, as the bohemianism construed and articulated in fin de sicle Montmartre was spatially, culturally, and as historically isolated from its Latin Quarter predecessor founded in the events precipitated in the Commune as the source of bohemian modernity 21 Victor Meusy and Edmond Depas, Guide de ltranger Montmartre, (Paris: J. Strauss, 1900), 99103.
Chapter One 20 Instead, whereas Murgers nineteenth century discourse of a bohemian way of life in Paris failed to articulate its own identity stylized as nominally bohemian and was rather typified as such according to external representations for cultural consideration, Montmartre bohemianism w as adaptive of contemporary commercial forms of popular culture and employed certain aesthetic narratives and rhetoric to self consciously identify itself as bohemias spiritual and cultural successor. I interpret that development as a discursive rupture i n Parisian bohemian identity, a salient temporal disjuncture that contextualizes Montmartres bohemianism, as performed through its cabarets artistiques in the transforming discourse and cultural perception of urban modernity in the Parisian public mind. H aussmanns gentrification and establishment of what David Harvey identifies as a bourgeois moral order in Paris in the latter half of the nineteenth century is an absolutely crucial transition in the development of Montmartres collective commercial cultur e through the cabaret as it furnished the sociopolitical context upon which the establishments cultures and topical discussion of Parisian life were contingent.22 Aforement ioned devel opments in consumer capitalism, the nominally modern means of production touted by the entrepreneurial bourgeois classes of Paris as a schema for public leisure within the city enabled Montmartre bohemianism, identity, and cabaret culture to take form as a conduit for commercial pleasure that fit wi thin that framework II. Paris Nouveau and Bourgeois Discourse in the Finde Sicle City If Haussmannization embraced the physical and spatial transformation of Paris into the bourgeois metropolis it is so widely believed to have become, the capital of the 22 David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity, 226 227.
Chapter One 21 nineteenth century as Walter Benjamin alleged, the emergence of a new bourgeois culture and discourse to govern public relations and conduct solidified the bourgeoisies understanding of urban renewal as modernization. Indeed, Haussmanns physical re vision of Parisian space was a phenomenon concurrent to rapid shifts in public discourse and political regime change that reflected bourgeois normativity both in Parisian and more broadly, national culture, Paris continuing to remain the capital and metrop ole of the French empire and the bastion of political dialogues for national values. Much scholarship has been produced on this concomitant physiospatial and discursive integration of modern Paris into the domain of the bourgeoisie, and furnishes a hist orical context crucial to understanding Montmartres bohemian identity, as such changes articulated the dominant values, modes of thought, and social norms that finde sicle Montmartres boh me moderne identified its elf in contrast to, and purportedly sought to subvert, lampoon, and critique. The foundation of the French Third Republic in 1870 serves as the most concrete point of departure in the discursive transformation of Paris into a bourgeois city. The emergence of republicanism as the new dominant f orce of political order materialized in Paris as a moment of thorough reform in physical, social, and political public space. Richard Thomson notes that the rise of the Third Republic provoked debates preoccupied with sociopolitical moderation in the public sphere so as to curtail the extremism that had previously characterized French society throughout the nineteenth century.23 Such debates, Thomson argues, largely privileged the franc hise behind the Third Republic, the bourgeoisie, and served as a medium through which bourgeois norms and values 23 Richard Thomson, The Troubled Republic: Visual Culture and Social Debate in France,18891900, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 7 16.
Chapter One 22 permeated public discourse and became the dominant mode of thought governing public morality.24 Consequently, bourgeois culture became synonymous with the public mind. As Thomson argues, bourgeois anxieties and values became normative within Third Republic era political and social dialogue, and Paris, ever being integrated into the bourgeois domain, became a space for negotiating those mores. Ide als of progress and material development became standard under the republican order, embodied in the political influences of Jules Ferry and Lon Gambetta. According to Phil ip Nord, this emergence of a bourgeois republican moment under their rule cemented the doctrines of secular civic education and a moral mission towards human development that situated the state as Frances primary medium of constructing a democratic moral order using the family as the fundamental unit of this republican way of life .25 T his bourgeois republican preoccupation with public morality became a defining issue of everyday life in urban space, with monumental architecture in honor of the republican triumph becoming norm, the state seeking to moderate the arts to be socially usefu l and curtail public acts of excess, depravity, or decadence.26 In turn, overt demonstrations of sexuality, political radicalism, and merging of private and public spheres of life became modes of deviating from such norms.27 Indeed, bourgeois notions of public morality were rigidly defined in their traditionalism and emphasis on family as a microcosm of the republican community: g ender roles and separate spheres of publicity and domesticity between men and women severely enforced; moderate liberal republ icanism, democracy, and 24 Ibid. 25 Philip Nord, The Republican Moment : Struggles for Democracy in NineteenthCentury France, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 137 a nd 191192. 26 Les Beaux Arts dune socit d mocratique, speech from April 23, 1881 to the Socit de s Beaux Arts, see Odile Rudelle Jules Ferry : La R publique des citoyens, vol. 2, (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1996), 9598. 27 Ibid., 1923.
Chapter One 23 commercial capitalism primary discourses of the French nation; and the persistent paranoia of deviance from established standards of traditional modes of civil sociability, a notion termed within the bourgeois public mind as decad ence.28 Thomson further argues that images from contemporary popular art reflected this discursive obsession with regulating public social interaction, with images of the female body and feminine sexuality being positioned as one of the more contentious issues for negotiating public morality.29 In this way, bourgeois discourses of public morality defined notions of temporal evolution in Parisian society, and effectively became, concomitant to the physical manifestations of c hange occurring throughout the city, a signifier of urban mode rnity in the public imagination through a bourgeois perspective. III Boulevard Culture and Spectacle as Modern Forms of Urban Pleasure According to Vanessa Schwartz, scholar of finde sicle Fr ench culture, Haussmanniz ation constituted nothing less than the material fulfillment of the urban modernity by and for the bourgeoisie that the Third Republic, and its pervasive rhetoric for the regulation of public morality, represented.30 Schwartz co nvincingly substantiates that assertion by noting the emergent forms and organs of consumer capitalism that transformed Paris from an industrial to a commercial capital in a rapidly transforming European society.31 Schwartz maintains that Haussmanns Pari s nouveau ultimately transformed the city centers topographic and social geography to such great extents that the new boulevards constructed in the city center effectively became commercial thoroughfares for mass consumption and, given their uniform, mass ive and intently 28 Ibid., 3438. 29 Ibid., 6079. 30 Vanessa Schwartz, Spectacular Realities, 3. 31 Ibid.
Chapter One 24 monumental architectural styles and scales, became as Georges Montorgueil claimed, the spectacle of the street.32 (See Figure 1.2 ) I extrapolate that if Haussmannization comprised the physical component of Paris integration into the bourgeois domain of modernity, and republicanism the political manifestation of that same trend, then capitalist modes of production constituted the cultural component of the urban gentrification of finde sicle Paris. This commercial transformation entailed myriad new forms for mass consumption and personal entertainment each of which Schwartz understands as a singular expression of the unifying phenomenon, the emergent boulevard culture of the bourgeoisie.33 Such new commercial forms of public leisure included the department store or grand magasin and its seasonal sales; the introduction of new monumental public landmarks as the Palais Garnier to house the Paris Opera at the northern term inus of its eponymous boulevard; the proliferation of numerous cafs and theaters along these grandboulevards and the eventual establishment of the cinema in the twentieth century. Ultimately, according to Schwartz, these forms of boulevard culture render ed the boulevard the principal spatial and cultural unit for the distribution of commercial wealth and public entertainment, furnishing urban space in Paris a visually dramatic theatricality and transmuting the citys core, defined by Schwartz as t hose urban areas west of the Ch teau dEau between the Porte Saint Martin and Madeleine, into a free form of public spectacle unto itself.34 (See Figure 1 .3) 32 Ibid., 20. 33 Ibid., 2021. 34 Ibid.
Chapter One 25 The initial confinement of such spaces of commercial spectacle, public pleasure, and thus massive wealth, in line with the overall trajectory of Hausmmaniz ation, to the city center and western edge both spatially and socially str atified the Parisian public. Such a condition ostensibly permitted those conditions that allowed boulevard culture to emerge as a dominant form of public pleasure and commercialized the experience of personal entertainment in the fin de sicle city signifying a shift towards conspicuous consumption as Parisian cultural norm Both Schwartz and historian of Pa risian consumerism Charles Rearick note the significance of the caf in visualizing this public obsession with the spectacle of urban space: the caf served as an auxiliary mode of public sociability and space for conspicuous consumption among the bourgeoi sie, but also as a clear vantage point for observing urban space, the primary theater of everyday life in nineteenth century France where the demarcations between the stage of urban space and its audience were ambiguously defined.35 Indeed, scholar of caf culture W. Scott Haine notes that the gentrification of the city under Haussmann and the subsequent embourgeoisement of the caf drinking and dining experience as an organ for observing everyday urban life belied the cafs working class origins as a public poi nt of convergence and conviviali ty among urban laboring classes. Haines claims here further cement fin de sicle Paris role as a materialization of contemporary bourgeois cultural dominance and marginalization of working class culture on the urban periphery.36 The implications of commercial boulevard culture in fin de sicle Paris thus frame a sociocultural discourse for urbanism that understood bourgeois cultural 35 Ibid., 22. 36 W. Scott Haine, The World of the Paris Caf: Sociability among the French Working Class, 17891914, (Baltimore : The Johns Hop kins University Press, 1996), 159.
Chapter One 26 dominance in the city as an auxiliary of modernity, the commercialization of urban space as a mechanism for the growth of a modern way of life in the French capital. That ideation of modernity as a bourgeois experience therefore remained a crucial force in mediating bohemian identity, which fashioned itself as a mutually constitutive foi l to the bourgeoisie that operated both culturally and physically on the periphery of Parisian life Such a dynamic in bourgeois bohemian relations contextualized the climate in which new forms of cultural expression emerged Furthermore, these tensions pr oved significant in typifying Montmartres contemporary role in Parisian life as an intermediary space that concretized relations between the bourgeois urban center and its forms of consumptionoriented commercial boulevard culture versus the comparatively rustic, economically deprived, and visually old labor centric communities on the northern and eastern peripheri es of the modern city. IV Rethinking Space in Montmartre: The Liminality of the C abaret A rtistique The realization of bourgeois cultural normativity in fin de sicle Paris, through the mechanisms of political discourse, physical change, and consumer oriented boulevard culture ultimately constructed a dominant mode of thought and fear of disorder where cultural aversions became all too cle ar. John Munholland note s that given the bourgeoisies palpable anxieties of cultural transgression, culturally transgressive s paces could easily materialize, and that climate contextualized the emergence of the cabaret in Montmartre as a rhetorically bohemian and distinctly anti bourgeois institution, or as he terms it, a delinquent community.37 However, Munholland also 37 John Kim Munholland, Republican Order and Republican Tolerance, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture 17.
Chapter One 27 asserts that the bourgeois forces of order governing Parisian culture largely tolerated such acts of transgression and bourgeois tem ptation that occurred in Montmartres cabaret world.38 He claims that despite the communitys reputation for deviancy, the Montmartre cabaret remained operative for its ephemeral pleasures, providing only momentary release from bourgeois austerity.39 Such assertions further inform my analysis of the cabarets historical development and introduction to Montmartre, as well as my interrogation of the cabaret as a mode for negotiating bohemian identity vis vis its relations with bourgeois Paris, as well as t he implications of the development of any bohemian culture within the cabaret. The advent of the cabaret artistique as the primary forum for realizing Montmartres cultural identity within fin de sicle Paris and the collective formation of a bohemian com munity around cabaret life pose a rather complex historical problem. F undamentally operating as a commercial establishment for the leisur ely consumption of artistic cultural production and the experience of la vie boh me as the Montmartre artistic community interpreted it, the cabaret as a cultural form unto itself originates within the markedly bourgeois cultural forms that comprised Schwartzs notion of a designed boulevard culture. The cabaret, as hybrid establishment that offered mixed media f or commercial pleasure, simultaneously functioning as a dining, drinking, and theatrical experience, emerged as an outgrowth of a similar model for a specifically urban enterprise, the cafconcert. 38 Ibid., 3132. 39 Ibid.
Chapter One 28 An elementary component of boulevard life, the caf conc ert served much the same social function as the cabaret within the Parisian city center, presenting the experience of public dining options with full menus at the same time as a musical act featuring popular contemporary songwriters and singers. These caf s proliferated at the fin de sicle primarily at the southern boundary of Montmartre, along the boulevards Rochechouart and Clichy around the Place Pigalle, the citys geographic focal point of prostitution and cultural intermediary between Haussmanns Par is and the unaltered landscape and slums of the butte Montmartre proper. These establishments enjoyed considerable financial success and popularity among the artistic community of Montmartre, as a map of the area printed in the 1900 Guide de ltranger M ontmartre attests. (See Figure 1.4 ) Cafs concert like the Rat Mort, Nouvelle Ath nes, and La Grande Pinte entertained a socially heterogeneous clientele from all corners of France, exhibited works produced by Montmartre artists on their walls, and accor ding to the Guide de l tranger garnered reputations as typifying Montmartres reproduction of boulevard life.40 Eventually, the real estate surrounding the Pigalle district alongside these cafes would serve as the focal point for the Montmartre cabaret co mmunity, with all establishments self identified as Montmartrois cabarets congregated most densely aroun d the Place Pigalle or along the boulevards Rochechouart and Clichy themselves. As such, I understand the Montmartre cabaret artistique both here and throughout the cours e of this study, as a conduit of fin de sicle boulevard culture that mediated bourgeois cultural normativity through a cultural reinvention of Paris bohemian legacy, ascribing the Montmartre community the legacy of nineteenthcentury 40 Victor Meusy and Edmond Depas, Guide de ltranger Montmartre, 5759 and 62.
Chapter One 29 workingclass political unrest, and framing it as the modern citys source for urban political unrest. Juxtaposing both the bourgeois norms of social structure and capitalist classes commercial modes for cultural production with the rhetoric, humor, and i deologically undermining intents that came to typify bohemianism in the Parisian popular imagination, what Charles Rearick aptly identifies as bohemias commodified implicitly contrived combative fun the cabaret artistique thus developed as a n intermediary space where both social groups negotiated Montmartre identity.41 Situated geographically not on the butte Montmartre itself but rather along the boulevards Rochechouart and Clichy that circumscribe the district, each of the four cabarets that serve as case studies for my arguments in this project the Chat Noir, QuatzArts, Le Mirliton, and Taverne du Bagne developed as outgrowths and calques of the cafconcert business stratagem, an institutional code and organ for both public entertainment and cultur al production that Schwartz and Rearick together qualify as a vehicle of bourgeois boulevard culture. The founding of the Chat Noir in 1881, the earliest example of any self identified Montmartre institution being stylized as a cabaret artistique perhaps best embodies that transformation and entrepreneurial imperative so characteristic of the contemporary Parisian bourgeoisie. Initially conceived as a collaborative effort between Rodolphe Salis, then a strugglin g painter and dropout from the cole des Bea ux Arts, and mile Goudeau, then president of the Latin Quarter based literary collective Les Hydropathes both to generate profit from the nascent trend towards hybrid multifunctional performance spaces and 41 Charles Rearick, Pleasures of the Belle Epoque: Entertainment and Festivity in Turnof the Century France, (New Haven : Yale University Press, 1985), 4248.
Chapter One 30 cafs and to provide the Hydropathes an outlet through which their works would reach a broader audience, the Chat Noir was indeed not a novel form of entertainment. Salis and Goudeau agreed to terms on how they would run the cabaret after meeting at the cafcon cert La Grande Pinte and borrowed their business strategy from the Pigalle establishment. La Grande Pinte had by then cultivated popularity among both the bourgeois public and enclave of artists residing on the butte Montmartre, who were attracted to the hilltop for its lax attitudes towards alcohol consumption and much lower costs of living than the boulevards below in Pigalle The establishments business model provided Salis multiple ideas for reinventing what had become a fundamental part of boulevard life for successful application in Montmartre. Salis would serve as the proprietor and emcee, or cabaretier whereas Goudeau would edit the cabarets weekly publication, conceived as a medium garnering publicity for his literary circle if the Hydropathes agreed to make the Chat Noir the ir regular meeting place and performance venue. The venture proved successful, and within months the newly formed cabaret artistique had not only cultivated a circle of regular performers and clientele, but had galvanized artists migration to Montmartre from elsewhere in Paris and throughout the rest of France.42 The ideological prerogatives of artistic production, contempt of bourgeois Paris material consumerism that the Chat Noir collectively branded a s a condition of modernity, humor as a means to undermine topical political discourse that the cabaret nurtured as its own institutional culture and expression of its bohemian identity as well as that of Montmartre, and the cabarets commodification of those narratives as marketing 42 See Emile Goudeau, Dix ans de boheme, 252 260.
Chapter One 31 strategies to grow its c lientele, provide the basis for what this thesis construes as cabaret culture, necessarily an extension of Schwarzs boulevard culture, as modified for application within the Montmartre community. The Chat Noirs success in the material and ideological r eification of Montmartres cultural identity as a marginal, historically volatile and threatening sect of Parisian society through the cultivation of a discourse it could brand as bohemian and distinctly Montmartrois, vis vis fumisme which I further exp lore in chapter t wo, proved crucial for further developing an artistic community a round the butte Montmartre that employed the cabaret as its primary institution. The Chat Noirs own ins titutional culture articulated its in tent to subvert bourgeois mores. I ts dominant and carefully constructed ideology of fumisme which has been historically translated as blowing smoke provided the discursive grounds for satirizing and criticizing Parisian bour geois norm s through historically informed humor and accordin gly simultaneously fashioned an imagination for modern bohemian identity in Montmartre.43 The success and popularity the Chat Noir almost immediately enjoyed found its model for commodifying Montmartre historical memory as a form of commercial leisure, and the cultural forms through which it asserted its bohemian identity were almost ubiquitously reproduced in every cabaret to emerge around the butte at the fin de sicle. This material and ideological reproduction of the Chat Noirs commercial and cultural precedent and adoption of the modes of production it used to a ssert its bohemian authenticity I identify throughout this thesis as formulas for entertainmen t that concretely codified Montmartre cabaret culture. 43 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, Gabriel P. Weisberg, ed., (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 182. The alternate connotations of fraud derive from the word fumisterie s contemporary meaning as a synonym f or fraud.
Chapter One 32 Like the di strict it grew out of this cabar et culture established an intermediary space which obfuscated clear boundaries between bourgeois and bohemian identities: the cabarets, as sites of commercial consumption, entertained a largely bourgeois clientele, who were attracted to what all scholars h ave agreed was a momentary escape from quotidian life and what Rearick calls the bourgeois work imperative.44 The cabaret was to its bourgeois public a commodified fantasy that permitted them, as the customers upon whose money bohemian Montmartres existe nce was contingent, to experience a vaguely combative, hostile, and alluringly alien way of life where regulations that governed normative social interactions were suspended, if not outright mocked. More so, the environment was controlled by upstart male e ntrepreneurs who privileged the demands of their audience above all else for monetary gain. As such, caba ret culture and social space were thus stratified so as to uphold class identities, despite the visual intent to promote the bohemian ideal of convivia lity and subversive transgression of social boundaries through class mixing.45 The community s circle of regular contributors and artists, collectively branded throughout the cabaret world as habitus remained the distinct social group within the establishments, who effectuated the prerogative of artistic production, and whose labors constituted the mainstay of cabaret cultures interpretation of bohemian identity in Montmartre. The se forced interact ions between audience and performer therefore created an intermediary channel through which the cabarets of fin de sicle Montmartre negotiated social relations between bohemian and bourgeois Paris, while acting out its own interpretations of the community s bohemian identity and concurrently reinforcing social 44 Charles Rearick, Pleasures of the Belle Epoque, 55. 45 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, 183 187 and 195.
Chapter One 33 structures and cultural norms that typified bourgeois life in the city. Such conditions, as I reiterate throughout this study, find themselves reproduced nearly everywhere within Montmartres cabaret community, regardless of each individual cabarets assumed theme, aesthetic or historical na rrative, or political alignment. Together, they contributed to popular perceptions among Parisians of Montmartre as the new bastion of pleasure. Thus, they reinf orced consumer capitalist modes of cultural production endemic to the bourgeois classes while rhetorically attacking the bourgeoisie as the dull and somber guardians of workaday order.46 I find these developments to be demonstrative of a careful attempt to blur clear distinctions between bohemian and bourgeois identities within the cabaret artistique s that comprised Montmartres bohemian community at the fin de sicle so as to obscure the obviously commercial imperative, and therefore contradictorily bourg eois discourses, that drove the production of bohemianism and its cultural identity there. V The Myth of Modern Bohemia: Montmartre as a Culture of Spectacle If a period of rapid urban transformation and emergent discourses of the commercialization of urb an space as signifiers of modernity provided the sociocultural context that allowed the Montmartre cabaret to appear as a novel cultural form, then cabaret culture must be understood as a historical contingency in the narrative of what is today understood as commercial capitalism, mass consumption, and popular culture. The cultural form of cabaret, as it existed in fin de sicle Montmartre, thus represented a formative process that replicated trends of urban cha nge, specifically gentrification that occurred throughout the rest of the city. This chapter, I hope, has adequately 46 Charles Rearick, Pleasures of the Belle Epoque, 46.
Chapter One 34 contextualized in theory and application the transient discursive and sociocultural climate in which bohemian discourse and identity arose within the Montmartre community. The advent of g entrification, which Haussmanniz ation, boulevard culture, and new forms of commercial entertainment that utilized public space as the primary vehicle for rendering the realities of urban life a consumable spe ctacle, I maintain, all point to Montmartres cabaret culture at the fin de sicle being an extension of that narrative. As such, I assert both here and elsewhere in this thesis that bohemian Montmartre was ultimately the invention of the Parisian bourgeoi sie, the commercial reification of a community with a distinct cultural identity that functionally constituted the spatial expansion of boulevard culture into new markets, the adaptation of consumer culture into novel forms that suited the Montmartrois audience. Montmartre cabaret culture, as a temporal and cultural continuity in the narrative of capitalisms historical evolution and adaptation reveals a power dynamic that reinforced bourgeois cultural normativity despite Montmartres collective claims to bohemian identity As sites of commercial spectacle and enforcing artistic cultural production to the sole end of its publics perpetual consumption of that product, the bohemian cabarets served to reify Montmartres past and articulate its historical identity not as institutions of an alternative vision for the present, but rather as varied expressions of the enfranchised order, its subversive rhetoric an artifice intended for distraction and its narrative of a bohemian legacy a fantasy through which it could reproduce itself as a popular form of public pleasure in the modern city. While this chapter explores the conditions that contextualized such trends, I readily acknowledge its lack of any significant cultural analysis. I maintain here that
Chapter One 35 cabaret cultu re reinforced bourgeois normativity and implicitly reproduced mores and hierarchies that represented dominant modes of bourgeois thought and order, yet consciously stop short of examining those means by which bourgeois discourse betrays the Montmartre cabaret communitys bohemian pretenses. Indeed, such facets of cabaret culture serve as the footing for the remainder of this thesis, the commodification of historical memory and gender codes that emerged within the bohemian communities being the most salient indicators of bourgeois social order. Rather, I frame this historic al problem of class relations in the dialectical terms that define the scholarly conversations on the Parisian fin de sicle and Montmartres role in i t: bourgeois bohemian relations; Pari sian urban modernity versus Montmartres spatially and temporally ambiguous obsolescence; order versus spontaneity and radicalism; temperance versus excess. Such relationships I hope situate Montmartre in the geographic and cultural periphery of an aggress ively expanding, gentrified urban environs that permeated the district and appropriated its past as well as its contemporaneous, liminal cultural identity to lucrative ends. In doing so, I assert that bourgeois Paris did not reconci le with its subversive bohemian counterpart, but rather recreated it so as to integrate Montmartre conveniently into its narrative of modernity. The cabaret artistique was thus but an extended variation of commercial pleasure and constituent part of boulevard culture that transf ormed the pervasive, quotidian, and occasionally abrasive realities of Parisian life into what Vanessa Schwartz and Charles Rearick mutually ascertain to be momentary spectacles and fantasies for public diversion that validated the nineteenth century citys pervasive urban growth and modernization as a homogeneously bourgeois metropolis. As such, cabaret life reproduced tropes of
Chapter One 36 mass consumption and commercial capitalism that had been cemented in the public sphere as organs of the R epublican bourge ois franchise and thus reflected the ways in which bourgeois mores and patterns of social order were contemporaneously understood in the citys public mind as normative. The rest of this study provides a more considered analysis of th e Montmartre cabaret s as a means to elicit further attention to the ways in which the se commercial conduits of Montmartre bohemianism largely sustained bourgeois norms within the production, marketing, and growth of their collective culture.
Chapter Two 37 Une vritable Fte foutre : Cabaret and Historica l Memory in Bohemian Montmartre Whereas my first chapter examined the material, physical and spatial components of bourgeois cultural influence in Montmartre, t his chapter will interrogate the discursive role of Montmartres collective historical memory in negotiating bohemian identity within the cabarets of the quarter at the fin de sicl e. My primary concerns remain the cabarets production and manipulation of Montmartre historical narratives to legitimate their claims to bohemian identity. My argument is necessarily multifaceted. I first argue that the cabarets predicated their bohemian authenticity on a perceived M ontmartrois historical legacy of hostility, if not uninhibited violence directed toward the bourgeoisie of Paris and more broadly, the entirety of France. Historical consciousness within the collective culture of the Mo ntmartre cabarets manifests primarily in each cabarets aesthetic design. Each cabaret assumed its own aesthetic theme through which they invoked, be it by visual, oral, or simply discursive means, a particular histori cal narrative that substantiated their individual claims to bohemian iden tity, predicated on a fundamental opposition to the growing cultural influence of the entrepreneurial and bourgeois classes of Paris. The first component of my argument in this chapter concerns those cabarets which e spoused an aesthetic and cultural ident ity founded in direct hostility and antagonism towards the Parisian bourgeoisie as a means to authenticate their self professed bohe mianism. I argue that the cabarets claims to bohemian identity were not founded in narratives of nineteenthcentury bohemia n tradition, but instead they posited that their bohemianism derived from their hostility towards the contemporary entrepreneurial, capitalist classes. Two particular establishments interest me for the
Chapter Two 38 modes by which they sought to convey this bohemian tra dition of bourgeois antagonism: the cabarets Taverne du Bagne and Le Mirliton. B oth cabarets construed and presented Montmartres collective history as a site of rebellion against Parisian institutions and predicated their commercial operation and visual c ulture as spaces of mass consumption ( as cabarets ) on the aesthetic of violence that Montmartres historical legacy as a site of political and cultural rebellion entailed. I furthermore maintain that these two cabarets asserted that historical memory of violence to be the discursive foundations for Montmartre bohemian identity and thus by reproducing that narrative, they legitimated their claims to the legacy of bohemian Montmartre. I relate the overtly antagonistic modes of claiming bohemian identity observed in the respective institutional cultures of the Taverne du Bagne and Le Mirliton, however aesthetically dissimilar the two may be, to the historical narratives employed by two competing, and arguably more influential establishments within the M ontmartre cabaret social sphere: the Chat Noir and the Cabaret des QuatzArts. In line with my principal argument, I claim that these two cabarets also manipulated Montmartre historical consciousness to validate their own contentions of bohemian authority Similarly to the Taverne du Bagne and Le Mirliton, the two cabarets questioned in this section relied on the assumption that Montmartres historical essence and identity was conditional upon the steadfast opposition to institutional, which is to say bour geois, norms, to validate their respective claims to bohemian identity. However, the Chat Noir and QuatzArts differ from the preceding establishments in what historical narratives they chose to reproduce as modes of expressing historical resistance to Fr ench institutions.
Chapter Two 39 Rather than invoking the vulgar historical narratives of hostility and violence towards the bourgeoisie as the Taverne and Le Mirliton did, the Chat Noir and QuatzArts opted to obfuscate their cultural contempt and codify bohemianis m inste ad on the discursive subversion of the Parisian bourgeoisie thinl y veiled as satirical banter, an ideology collectively branded as fumisme.47 Fumisme conceived Montmartres bohemian history not as altogether culturally and socially disparate from its bourgeois audience, but rather as belonging to a broader national historical tradition within France and drew heavily on national historical narratives to legitimate its bohemian tradition.48 I argue here that the cabarets Chat Noir and QuatzArts employed the claim to the tradition of the Rabelaisian carnival vis vis the cultivation of fumisme as a distinctively Montmartrois discourse, as a means to validat e a claim to bohemian identity. I will explore the relationship between the production of fumisme as the primary ideological vehicle for contemporary Montmartre bohemianism and its popularly conceived historical foundations in the Rabelaisian notion of the esprit gaulois an d how the cabarets conceived fumisme, and thus Montmartre bohemianism as historical extension of the carnivalesque. In doing so, I maintain that the development of fumisme allowed the Chat Noir and QuatzArts cabarets to authenticate their establishments and more broadly, the entirety of Montmartre cabaret culture, as organs of a historical narrative that aligns bohemianism in constant moral and cultural opposition to the bourgeoisie, and fundamentally predicates bohemias existence upon the subversion of bourgeois culture. 47 John Munholland, Republican Order and Republican Tolerance, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 23. 48 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 187.
Chapter Two 40 The cabarets claims to historical bohemian legitimacy as well as my own assertions regarding the discursive significance of historical consc iousness within cabaret culture are, however problematized by their own functions as sites of comm ercial consumption. As Michael Wilson asserts in reference to the Taverne du Bagne, there does indeed exist a crucial contradiction between collective consciousness of historical narratives as a means to validate cultural identity and the commodification and mass reproduction of such aesthetics figured to be historically and culturally relevant, where the commodification of history renders the meaning of its events inevitably trivialized implying an inc ongruity between bohemias ideological subversion of bourgeois norms and its practical applications of commercial capitalism, a chiefly bourgeois domain.49 Beyond Wilsons scholarship, contemporary historiography in the field of bohemianism and popular culture in finde sicle Montmartre is to a great extent preoccupied with such inconsistencies in the cabarets ideological and practical applications of Mont martres collective history Works by Charles Rearick, Vanessa Schwartz, and Jerrold Seigel all attempt to reconcile the cabarets professed claims to bohemian historical traditions with their modes of operation as sites of commercial consu mption and publi c entertainment, foregrounding the crucial contradiction that despite attempts to promote class mingling and an air of conviviality, the c abarets entertained a primarily bourgeois clientele.50 Drawing on such established scholarly conversations, I relate m y arguments in this chapter to this thesis broader project and assertion that the fabrication of Montmartre bohemianism vis vis its primary cultural organ of the cabaret, constituted the bourgeoisies reification and reproduction of Montmartres cultura l identity by means of, 49 Ibid., 181. 50 Ibid.
Chapter Two 41 as Wilson says, the nascent tools of commodity culture.51 Ultimately I contend that the historical narratives invoked to legitimate bohemian identity within the cabarets examined here are expressive of that culture of mass consumption, an explicit mode and mechanism of bourgeois culture and accordingly bear little relation beyond nomenclature to any truly Parisian bohemian tradition As such, I construe the cabarets uses of history to be the discursive integration of Montmartre into the bourgeois vision of a modern, commercialized, and gentrified Parisian city space, and the primary ideological means of reinventing and reifying Montmartres cultural identity as a form of consumable and popular bohemia. I. Violence, Commodity, and Historical M emory in the Montmartre Cabaret Anti bourgeois sentiment was, since the emergence of Montmartres cultural and discursive ties to Parisian bohemian life, a rudimentary and integral facet of bohemian culture. Certainly, Emile Goudeau, founder of the bohemian Hydropathes literary circle that helped found the Chat Noir in 1881, in proposing a definition for a bohemian typology and lifestyle, writes that the creation of future generations of bohemia ns depended upon the penetration into the minds of young [ male ] students, destined to become the haute bourgeoisie, the notions of poetry and art, further implying that the bohemia n domains of arts and letters were nonexistent, or rather did not belong among the upwardly mobile enfranchised elite and mi ddle classes of Paris.52 Such a proposition adequately upholds contemporary popular assumptions and discourses that the bohemian 51 Ibid. 52 Goudeau, Dix ans de boheme, 206.
Chapter Two 42 and bourgeois cultures, in theory, were mutually exclusive and in a constant state of perpetual antagonism. Within fin de sicle Montmartre, where the institutions known as cabarets artistiques grew to define the neighborhoods associations with bohemian life and culture, such institutions constructed not only their own institutional identities and culture, but also those of Montmartre itself, often by reinterpreting Parisian history through that binary of mutual hostility between bohemian and bourgeois to rectify their own claims to bohemian identity a trend collectively referred to as la nostalgie de la boue .53 This nominal nostalgia for the h istorical narratives of Montmartres tradition of radical politics squalid living conditions, and violence remained a convenient point of departure for those cabarets that sought to frame their own institutional cultures as laying claim to the neighborhoods ostensibly bohemian tradition. In this regard, the cabaret Taverne du Bagne (Hard Time Tavern) provides a salient example of how the reinterpretation and marketing of Montmartre historical memory by employing this nostalgie de la boue shaped bohemian identity in the quarters collective cabaret culture at the fin de sicle, having successfully appropriated the image and historical legacy of Montmartres role in the 1871 Commune as its mode of claiming bohemian legitimacy. The Tavernes synecdochical use of the Commune as a mode of imaging its own bohemian culture as well as a broader expression of Montmartres historically bohemian origins bore rather profound implications in terms of cultural significance in mediating 53 Literally translated as nostalgia for mud, the French appellation nostalgie de la boue can best be interpreted as nostalgia for squalor, referring to the perceived abrasiveness and anti bourgeois and anti capitalist sentiments of Montmartre bohemian life as the essential aspects of the lifestyle to be cultivated and co nveyed through cabaret culture. See Richard D. Sonn, Marginality and Transgression: Anarchys Subversive Allure, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 128.
Chapter Two 43 bohemianbourgeois r elations. As Howard Lay notes in his essay Pictorial Acrobatics, the political violence that ensued in the Semaine Sanglante of the Commune, which ultimately left roughly twenty five thousand communards dead, bears an irreconcilable visual an d broader cultural association with Montmartres historical identity, as the butte served as the Communes head of government, as well as the initial point of combat and one of the last.54 Necessarily, given the Communes controversial and provocative implications as a recent historical development at the time of the cabarets opening in 1885, the reproduction of that historical memory as a consumable experience was of careful design. The cabaret itself was the idea of Maxime Lisbonne, a former colonel in th e French National Guard and himself a communard, deported to the penal colony of New Caledonia and sentenced to forced labor in 1872 for participating in the rebellion. After being pardoned in 1880 under the general amnesty issued by the Third Republic to former communards, he returned to Paris and opened the Taverne du Bagne in 1885 at the intersection of the Boulevard de Clichy and Rue des Martyrs at the foot of the butte Montmartre, not two blocks down the street from the Chat Noir, already an establishe d Montmartre cabaret and popular venue for the Montmartre community and a bourgeois clientele. The site Lisbonne chose had been condemned, and the buildings structural integrity was not renewed once the establishment began its operations.55 Indeed, the Tav erne du Bagne relied on an aesthetic of imagined hostility and politically charged violence between spectators and servers as the basis for its spectacles 54 Howard G. Lay, Pictorial Acrobatics, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 157 160. 55 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 199.
Chapter Two 44 novelty. The cabarets interior was designed to replicate the conditions communards faced as political prisoners for its clientele. An article in the Vieux Montmartre issue of the Bulletin de la socit dhistoire et darchologie du XVIIIe arrondissement depicts a typical evening and experience inside the cabaret, noting Lisbonnes addressing of patro ns as convicts, violent handling of patrons and shuffling of guests to their tables where they were shackled to their tables and heckled by servers outfitted in prison garb and balls and chains to order one of two drinks permitted to be consumed: absinthe or bock.56 The interior was starkly and sparsely outfitted to resemble a prison cell, primarily stone with wooden tables, the space dimly lit with portraits of deceased communards the only wall adornments allowed. Once patrons had fully consumed and paid for their beverages, they were provided a tick et de libration which permitted them hassle free exit via the greffe, or court clerk dressed as a prison guard, yet they were required to be speedy so as to not disturb the turnover rate for the next group of customers. It was not uncommon for patrons to be handled physically for not following Lisbonnes directions.57 T he historical implications of such a typical spectacle in the Taverne du Bagne presents a somewhat com plex discourse of how the cabaret negotiated historical memory as a mode of asserting bohemian culture and the cabarets identity and ideologi cal involvement in that culture. S pecific ally, it conflates the histor ical narrative of the Commune and its legacy of political violence and penal servitude as that of Montmartre. As such, I find it necessary to question the meaning of such visual provocations in order 56For a brief, yet thorough chronology of the Taverne du Bagne as well as a cultural history of the cabaret, see Bulletin de la Socit dhistoire et darchologie du XVIIIe arrondissement : Le Vieux Montmartre, du 26 aot, 1886, (Paris: Comit de publication au sige de la socit, mairie du XVIIIe arrondissement, 1886), 7383. 57 Ibid.
Chapter Two 45 to more thoroughly examine the ideological foundations of the establishment as a nomi nal cabaret artistique and as an organ for the production and codification of Montmartre bohemian cultural identity. As Michael Wilson notes, the Taverne followed the Chat Noirs precedent in both mode of operation and the central bohemian strategy to act out bohemian identity.58 However, the cultural significance of the Communes historical legacy as it relates to Montmartre co nstituted an oddly inflammator y and political means of deploying historical memory as a means to legitimate the cabarets bohemi anism. Given the Communes occupation of a somewhat sensitive space in Montmartres collective consciousness, the commodification and marketing of that vi olent, if oppressive and traumatic memory to a clientele primarily composed of those perceived as Mont martres oppressors, above all by a Communard who experienced such violence is striking as Lisbonne ultimately was subject to psychologically relive the Communes violent legacy at the same time as he reified it for mass consumption. For this reason I call into question Lisbonnes intent in reproducing the Communes memory as a consumable experience marketed to, as Paul Lafargue, son in law to Karl Marx puts, the society people [who] go in their carriages to line up to pay double for a bock at the Taverne du Bagne.59 Michael Wilson offers a rather astute analysis of this attempt at using history to image Montmartre bohemianism. Indeed, according to Wilson, the historical narrative of the Commune afforded great, provocatively political novelty to Lisbonnes business scheme. However, s uch a theatrical staging of that violent past ultimately alienated Montmartres politically radical (which is to say, bohemian) community, as the Tavernes premature closure due to land 58 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, 187. 59 Richard D. Sonn, Marginality and Transgression, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 128.
Chapter Two 46 speculation in 1886 in and its ephemeral success attest .60 Wilson notes that Lisbonnes simultaneous intent to antagonize a largely bourgeois public with a particular reality, the traumatic beginnings of the Third Republic and leisurely attempt to offer momentary escape from the quotidian ultimately renders political life a diversion to the shocking fantasy of the cabarets spectacle.61 As such, Lisbonnes attempt to validate the bohemian authenticity of his cabaret by conflating it with Montmartres violent and radical history become a secondary superficial implication to the overwhelming experience of the cabarets projected image. Any notions of class consciousness Montmartre history, an d bohemian identity as realized in professed hostility against bourgeois norms become lost in the cabarets operational gimmick, which clearly remains the quidpro quo entertainment of a bourgeois clientele, and there remains a gulf between the cabarets i deological applications of bohemian lifestyle and that tradition vis vis the channeling of violent historical narratives, and its operational purpose as a vehicle for bourgeois commercial pleasure. Lisbonne was not alone in employing this form of nostalgie de la boue towards the Parisian bourgeoisie to legitimate his belonging to the Montmartre bohemian legacy Whereas the Taverne du Bagne attempted to authenticate Montmartre bohemianism through historical narratives of political violence, however, other Montmartre establishments sought more depoliticized and socially aggressive modes of conveying mutual bourgeois bohemian antagonism as their means of accessing valid reputations as organs of Montmartre bohemian identity. Aristide Bruant, former chansonnier at the Chat 60 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 203. 61 Ibid., 1 99.
Chapter Two 47 Noir and proprietor of the cabaret Le Mirliton, which occupied the premises of the Chat Noirs initial location to a great degree exemplifies that utilization of Montmartres history as a sordid slum to provoke a bourgeois public. Similarly to the Tavernes brusque, if alienating aesthetic, Bruants Le Mirliton sought to estrange its audience through the channeling of a vulgar historical memory by conjuring the image of Montmartres abject poverty, squalor, and profanity as a supposedly authe ntic representation of bohemian life there. Its revue, decor and behavioral codes largely uphold that impression. The cabaret was imagined as a focal point for the bohemian demimonde of Montmartre and indeed recreated its articulated associations with low culture or as contemporary journalist and Montmartre habitu Oscar Metenier writes, miserys lament .62 When the cabaret opened in 1885 at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart after Rodolphe Salis ha d relocated the Chat Noir from the same location, a formerly conde mned post office the interior was bare, Bruant only installing a piano, tables, and chairs to fill the space to capacity. A typical evening at the cabaret largely reproduced the tro pes and conditions of hostility and violent treatment of its clientele seen in the Taverne du Bagne, though void of any overt political connotation s The cabaret remained open from 10:00 pm until midnight, and to gain entry, every customer was required to tap and speak an arbitrary password, recreating the experience of an illicit speakeasy. Once inside, spectators were huddled in seats within an uncomfortably close proximity, violating haute societe 62Metenier wrote an account of Bruants life and active contributions to Montmartres artistic entertainment community in his honor published in Le Mirliton itself, with much emphasi s on the founding of the cabaret The account positions Bruant in contrast to Rodolphe Salis and the Chat Noirs pomp, as a vulgar and crude, and therefore genuine bohemian ( grossier). For further reading, see Oscar Metenier, Le Chansonnier populaire Aristide Bruant (Paris: Au Mirliton, 84 Boulevard Rochechouart, 1 893), 1835.
Chapter Two 48 protocols for propriety relating to the respect for personal space in social contexts. From there on, customers w ere regularly insulted and heckled to consume more beer and contribute money to individual performers or buy the inhouse publication featuring the evenings sheet music and recent press at Bruants whim, acts often interrupted to insult customers appearance with chanted refrains of Oh la la, ctte gueule ctte binette! .63 Beer was the only beverage permitted to be consumed at a minimal price of 13 sous, though the price varied according to customers appearance, conspicuously conveyed image of monetary w ealth, and Bruants mood, and according to Metenier, no amount consumed was ever enough.64 Women, not permitted in the audience unless accompanied by a male and not allowed to perform at all were subje ct to particularly harsh verbal sexual harassment, only ever referred to in the context of sex work as putain or courtesane depending on their externalized image of social class. If anyone were to leave without explanation or notice, they were collectively taunted until out of sight.65 These conditions, while not explicitly concerned with any particular defined bohemian past or legacy in Montmartre, typified the inimical dynamic that historically defined social relations between bohemian and bourgeois Parisians within discourses that codified bohemian identity. While expressly apolitical and devoid of any one historical narrative channeled into its program, Le Mirliton did occasionally cite specific historical memories to corroborate its bohemianism as being specific to Montmartres collective way of life. In Au Montmartrele Soir, for example, we read Bruants refrain for an evening revue in the cabaret, A nous gloire et fortune/ Massacrons les bidards/ et faisons 63 Ibid. 64 Ibid. 65 Ibid.
Chapter Two 49 la Co mmune/ des Lettres et des Arts! 66 The refrain again plays on the Communes memory as a mean s to actualize the cabarets bohemian cultural normativity, however in a much less obtrusive manner to the ploys of the Taverne du Bagne. Nonetheless, despite not appropriating any singular narrative to historically legitimate its institutional culture and bohemian identity, Michael Wilson and Richard Sonn both note Le Mirlitons historical consciousness as a means of accessing bohemian credibility within Montmartre life as an established cabaretartistique. Their common distinction relates the propagation of Montmartres historical memory as a discursive signifier of bohemian identity not through theatrical or spatial means but rather Bruants political activity beyond the establishment, captured in the cabarets print publication. Sonn and Wilson both cont end that Bruants cultivation of an anti S emitic and anticapitalist political persona by running as the candidat populaire for national elections in Belleville configured a folkloric historicity within Le Mirlitons print publication that served as a visu al platform for Bruants ideological persuasions beyond cabaret life. Defining his political proclivities as opposing capitalist feudalism and cosmopolite Jewry, true Union of Treason organized against France, Sonn notes that Bruants political rhetoric championed a vague historical memory of an old France and the dclasss ( degenerates or lowlifes ) of bohemian Paris as the essence of the French nation, drawing such rhetorical parallels with the political vision of proto fascist Maurice Barrs.67 Such nationalist visions of French history in a political framework had clear ramifications within Le Mirliton where the notion of the bohemian dclasss 66 Ann de Bercy, Montmartrele soir, (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1951), 35. 67 Richard D. Sonn, Anarchism and Cultural Politics in Finde Sicle France, (Lincoln, NE and London : University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 129 137.
Chapter Two 50 became a vehicle through which Bruant exploited his claims to bohemian identity and origin to both political and cultural ends, as he touted his cabaret through its journal as an authentic bohemian experience in contrast to the embourgeoisement (gentrification) of the competing Chat Noir. In doing so, Bruant cultivated the reputation of championing a p urer form of French culture and language that drew comparisons from admirers with the canonical medieval literary figure Franois Villon. Villon, a celebrated fifteenth century poet and criminal who wrote very briefly from prison and was eventually public ly hanged for his crimes, provided Bruant a salient historically subversive legacy to claim as the spiritual foundations for his own artistic identity an ancient yet culturally iconic criminality that furnished some historical relevance within Montmartre bohemianisms cultural context of Parisian modernity Bruant indeed exploit ed contemporary comparisons with Villon as a cultural connection not just to the Montmartre community but also as affectation through which he belonged to the collective past of the French nation.68 It remains, however, that the same problem of reproducing that nostalgie de la boue failed to provide any clear discursive evidence for a self articulated bohemian identity in Le Mirliton as it did in the Taverne du Bagne by failing t o adequately delineate bohemian identity on independent terms and instead employing its image and vague conceptions of what were popularly imagined as historically bohemian traditions to generate profit. In the same way that Wilson understands Lisbonnes T averne du Bagne to be the commodification of Montmartres bohemian and violent past and 68 Ibid. Sonns discussion of Bruants manipulation of Villons poetic legacy points to historical consciousness in Montmartre as a crucial component of its collective interpretation of modernity as an essentially bourgeois Parisian idea and thus its rejection.
Chapter Two 51 resulting trivialization of its history, Bruants appropriation of the image of bohemian squalor and rhetorical equation of the Montmartrois dclasss with a folkloric image of the French nations true essence was thinly veiled as bohemian Montmartres ideol ogical and discursive affront to bourgeois culture and norms. In both establishments, historical consciousness served useful points of departure for coding their resp ective cultures as faithfully bohemian institutions, but also successfully marketed that culture as a consumable experience to bourgeois audiences, reifying a way of life that was alluring, subversive, marginal, and somewhat threatening in the form of comm ercial enterprise. Ultimately, the social disparities between the entertainers and the entertained reveal the illusion of bohemias anti bourgeois sentiment: a theatricality that mediated between the two groups, commodifying ones culture to entertain the other. Ironically, that trend upheld commercial capitalist goals and served a valuable exercise in historical memorys relation to mass culture and consumer oriented enterprise. Sonn asserts, for example, that Bruants exploits and celebration of the Mont martre dclass actually served to reinforce normative social hierarchies by maintaining distinctions in class identity and privilege.69 In this same way, the Taverne du Bagne reinforced such notions even more explicitly by visually positioning the political prisoner in a role servile to the largely bourgeois audience. In both instances, the historical consciousness of class based violence and resentment provides a theoretical pretense for a commercial spectacle that articulates anti bourgeois sentiment, yet ultimately replicates a fundamental aspect of bourgeois culture and discursively reinforces the sameness of the bohemian and bourgeois classes while attempting to decry thei r distinction. 69 Ibid.
Chapter Two 52 One of the more problematic aspects of the collect ive culture of Montmartres fin de sicle cabarets is this obfuscation of clear boundaries between bohemian and bourgeois social spheres and the contradictory usage of historical consciousne ss as a means to both distinguish bohemian from bourgeois and reconcile them. As I have hopefully clarified thus far, any attempt at a discursive reconciliation between the two is at best illusory, as the cabarets themselves ascribed to modes of operation that reinforced bourgeois cultural norms despite their widespread assertions and visual attempts to denote otherwise. Thus far I have explored historical narratives of hostility between the two groups in the form of historical instances of social and polit ical violence to demarcate bohemian identity as a separate entity to that of the bourgeoisie. However convincing such historical images and ploys may have been, they did not constitute the entirety of Montmartres collective historical consciousness in dis cerning and coding its contemporary bohemian identity, legacy, and traditions. Indeed, narratives of historical violence and mutual antagonism as defining characteristics of bohemianbourgeois relations are a somewhat late development in Montmartres colle ctive bohemian imagination. The origins of historical consciousness being adapted as a tool for marketing and codifying the cabaret as a bohemian institution endemic to Montmartre are in fact somewhat removed from outward hostility and instead utilize humor as Montmartres historical claim to bohemian tradition, drawing upon the influence of Rabelaisian carnival as a an ideal for bohemian society and Montmartres institutional culture. This conjuration of a canonical French past provided the basis for an em ergent discursive trend within the earlier cabarets artistiques that developed as a prototype for a distinct bohemian ideology and foundation for Montmartre cultural identity referred to as
Chapter Two 53 fumisme and raises its own set of questions and problems that inf orm understandings of historical memory and its role in constructing bohemianism in the fin de sicle Montmartre cabaret. II. Fumisme and the Ideological Realization of Montmartres Subversive Past Fumisme or blowing smoke according to Michael Wilsons proposed translation, poses a considerable historiographical problem in the interpretation of Montmartres collective rationalization of its bohemian identity. While numerous definitions exist regarding ho w to adequately convey its meaning within the cultural context of Montmartre cabaret life, Emile Goudeau describes it as his conception for bohemian Montmartres own ideological foundations, a sort of disdain of everything, an innate contempt for beings a nd things, that was translated to the outside through countless tasks, farces, and fumisteries (frauds).70 Goudeaus proposed origins here demonstrate the subversive ideological elements of how he conceived bohemian Montmartre identity, yet fail to note any particular method for mockery or implication of what fumisme might convey. Similarly, in Autour du Chat Noir, Maurice Donnay qualifies the ideology in humorously explicit terms: a form of je men foutisme, or I dont give a fuck ism.71 In this section, I maintain that fumisme served a crucial role within the collective culture o f the fin de sicle Montmartre cabaret as its ideological foundations that sought to qualify Montmartre identity as distinctly bohemian in character and furtherm ore distinguish it from its bourgeois audiences. Indeed, fumisme remained a historically informed ideological production that presupposed Montmartres bohemian tradition to be rooted in 70 Emile Goudeau, Dix ans de bohme, 95. 71 Maurice Donnay, Autour du Chat Noir, (Paris: Bernard Grasset, 1926), 15 and 4446.
Chapter Two 54 the cultural subversion of bourgeois norms. However, I assert that rat her than employ historical narratives of violence and outward antagonism, fumisme and its proponents attempted to subvert bourgeois mores through parody, adopting an exaggeratedly haute culture ostensibly to satirize and alienate its bourgeois clientele. S uch a performance sought to legitimate Montmartres claim to bohemian identity by aligning it with a canonical French tradition: the Rabelaisian carnival and explicit consciousness of the past by means of emulating the social structures and norms of the ca rnivalesque. I further contend that the same problems of using historical memory to validate a supposedly distinct bohemian Montmartrois culture however ultimately forwent its ideological pretenses and largely reproduced bourgeois norms within the cabaret cultural sphere. Fumisme, as an ide ological vessel for realizing the historicity of Montmartres bohemian tradition, presents a rather convoluted and nonspecific appropriation of multiple historical narratives to frame the neighborhood at the fin de sicl e as simultaneously modern and age old tradition. Its place of origin, the cabaret Le Chat Noir, perhaps best exemplifies th at mash up of different historical aesthetics, memories, a nd narratives. Founded in 1881, the Chat Noir opened in manner true to its fumiste origins.72 Its very first advertisement, for example, proposed its own, as well as fumisme s historicity, reading: LE CHAT NOIR, Cabaret Louis XIII, F ond e en 1114 par un fumiste.73 The fumiste elements of the advertisement lie in the humorous exaggeration of the cabarets claim to a pas t royal tradition in its design and culture. The appellation of Louis XIII here qualifies the establishments visual aesthetic and bears 72 Armond Fields, Le Chat Noir: A Montmartre Cabaret and Its Artists in Turnof the Century Paris (Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1993), 10 11. 73 John Grand Carteret, Raphal et Gambrinus, ou lart dans la Brasserie, (Paris: Louis Westhausser, 1886), 80.
Chapter Two 55 obvious historical implications as a source of historical consciousness within the cabaret. Jean Pascal, in a pseudo ethnographic study of the Chat Noirs musical revue, maintains that this moyenageux aesthetic was of careful and deliberately anachronistic design, writing: rustic chairs, benches and tables made of solid wood, an illuminated stained glass window, a large hearth, a few ancient suits of armor, and gleaming copperwares made up the Louis XIII establishment.74 Michael Wilson notes the fumistic i mplications of such an interior dcor, maintaining that such historically themed bric a brac rejected contemporary standards of good taste and easily fed into Rodolphe Salis project to spatially assert the Chat Noirs bohemian character through the es tablishments consciousness of historical narratives of cultural subversion.75 Such discussion better clarifies the subversive intent behind fumisme to furnish an ideological basis for framing Montmartre identity as performed in its cabarets as the cultural antithesis to the Parisian bourgeoisie. Ultimately, fumisme and its proponents assumed a cultural consciousness of the past in order to effectuate that subversive intent: it parodied bourgeois culture by adopting historically significant narratives, aesthetics, and mores of the enfranchised urban elite and exaggerating its elevated implications. The Chat Noir did so deliberately by aligning its own institutional memory and identity with Louis XIII, conjuring a convolutedly anachronistic yet wholly historical memory of a decidedly French past Such a gesture was of rather careful design, as the appropriation of the French renaissance, particularl y the influence of Rabelais vision for a pleasure seeking 74 Jean Pascal, Les Chansons et posies du Chat Noir, in Les Chansonniers de Montmartre 24, (June 25, 1907) : 2. 75 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as Louis XIII Chair,
Chapter Two 56 utopia in the Abbaye de Thl me and its motto of do what you want helped the cabaret to substantiate its claims to Montmartre s festively bohemian tradition.76 The use of carnival and carnivalesque imagery provides a crucial point of departure for that claim, as its historical implications of the subversive, if momentary rejection of established social hierarchies and power relations between the enfranchised and the marginalized more concretely fram ed Montmartres articulation of a common bohemian identity within an intimately French historical context. III. Montmartres Reinvention of the Carnivalesque as the Modern Bohemian Tradition Just as Aristide Bruant developed a bohemian cult of self through articulated relations and comparisons to Franois Villon, the Chat Noir employed the memory of the Rabelaisian carnival to comparable ends. Indeed, the cabarets typical revue embraced the subversive notions of inverting normative social hierarchies within the establishments space and performed spectacles. As Mikhail Bakhtin notes in his definitive study of Rabelais just as the carnivalesque celebrated temporary liberation from the prevailing truth and from the established order, as well as the suspension of all hierarchical significance, so did the Chat Noir reproduce that inversion of normative social order within its space.77 At its initial location at 84 Boulevard Rochechouart, for example, the establishmen t only afforded a maximum capacity for thirty people and sought to promote class mingling and conviviality as a signifier of its bohemian 76 See Fran ois Rabelais, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Peter Antony Motteux, trans., Gargantua and His Son Pantagruel, (Derby: Moray Press, 1894), Book 1, Chapters LIV LVI. Do what you want translated from the original French, fais ce que voudras. 77 Mikhael Bakhtin, trans. Helene Iswolsky, Rabelais and His World, (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Pres s, 1968), 1011.
Chapter Two 57 character.78 Having grown in popularity due to its novel appeal to patrons as a fumistically egalitarian social space, proprietor Salis opted to expand the cabarets interior by adding a piano to its back room and stratifying the interior space according to an inverted social model: moneyed clientele were restricted to the dimly lit and cramped egalitarian tables in the front room, while the literary habitus gained access to the back To emphasize the fumistic and carnivalesque elements of such a gesture, Salis named the piano room lInstitut as a lampoon of the Institut de France, emblematic of the elevated institutional and official culture now ostensibly disenfranchised within the Chat Noirs social space.79 As the cabaret grew in popularity and its revenues proliferated, so did the opportunities to employ the historic al narrative of the Rabelaisian carnival to the end of affirming the Chat Noir, and more broadly, Montmartres collective bohemian identity. As Salis generated more profit, the cabaret expanded its operations to different cultural media beyond its nightly revue, founding a print publication with Emile Goudeau serving as editor in chief and circulating fumiste advertisements of the cabarets regular performers and acts as well as embellished stories of Montmartre history and current events, or faits divers Habitu and artist Adolphe Willette for example, notes Salis introduction of historically informed, if wholly erroneous monologues regarding the artistic and bohemian community of fin de siecle Montmartre to the Chat Noirs program. A particularly salie nt example of one such fumistic and carnivalesque monologue appears in his collection Feu Pierrot named for the alter ego and Com die Italienne persona ge Willette adopted while working within the Montmartre cabarets to 78 Armond Fields, Le Chat Noir, 1418. 79 Ibid.
Chapter Two 58 provide satirical and scathing comme ntary on Parisian culture and politics while affirming Montmartres bohemian character. Willette notes that Salis addressed his bourgeois audience derisively with feigned and inflated geniality while asserting Montmartre to be, as Michael Wilson posits in his analysis of the same monologue, the rhetorical ground for claim to the French tradition of festivity and creativity.80 Willettes art itself, when commissioned by Salis for exhibition in the cabaret, affirms the influence of the Rabelaisian carnival within the Chat Noirs institutional culture and historically informed identity as an ideological nucleus for fumisme within Montmartre. In 1884, at the request of Salis to a dorn the main room of the Chat Noir, Willette painted Le Parce Domine as a representation of Salis envisioned fumistic ideal of bohemian Montmartre and explicitly demonstrates some awareness of a historically informed carnivalesque aesthetic. ( See Figure 2.1) The painting presents a mu ltifaceted portrait of how the Chat Noir imagined bohemian identity in Montmartre through a fumistic lens, drawing quite heavily on topical social, political, and cultural commentaries to furnish a contemporary context throug h which the Rabelaisian carnival is acted out. Parce Domine depicts a parade of the entirety of Montmartre descending the butte, led by four different faces of Willettes adopted alias, Pierrot, signifying the union of the traditionally defined four beaux arts in France within Montmartres cabaret society and collective culture. The painting adopts numerous religious themes as fumistic mechanisms of critiquing the construction of the Sacre Coeur Basilica on Montmartre at 80 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 197.
Chapter Two 59 the time, portraying a mass of bohe mian Montmartrois occupying the basilicas cupola and belvedere while the iconic mills of Montmartre generate a musical soundtrack to the parade. Visible in the Montmartrois stampede are gendarmes on horseback being overrun in the mob while cabaret dancers angels, and nude women dance around them. The carnivalesque implications of Parce Domines visual design are readily apparent, as the normative hierarchies of French society are blatantly suspended and subdued in a momentary, and indeed socially provocat ive, festivity, culminating in Montmartre overpowering the established forces of order. That carnivalization of cabaret life within the Chat Noir as seen in Parce Domine thus replicated the Rabelaisian project, and as scholar John Munholland notes furnished an ephemeral taste of Bakhtins world upside down by stratifyi ng the cabarets social space and privileging artistic ability and production as a societal elite, inverting the normative social hierarchies of the Third Republic, popularly conce ived as the moral order of the bourgeoisie and Parisian entrepreneurial classes.81 The fumistic commentaries on Chat Noir life as a historically informed reproduction of the Rabelaisian carnival visualized in Parce Domine are largely upheld elsewhere wit hin the Chat Noir s published repertoire, with one particular image circulated in the cabarets weekly publication offering a definitive summary of the carnivalesques influence upon the establishments fumistic identity and collective institutional cultur e. An 1885 illustration by Chat Noir habitu Henri Rivi re, published after the cabaret had changed locations to 62 rue Victor Masse to account for increased popularity among a bourgeois public, titled LAncien Chat Noir reinforces the visual 81 John K im Munholland, Republican Order and Republican Tolerance, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture, 1528.
Chapter Two 60 implications of Willettes Parce Domine and defines the Chat Noirs social space as fumistically subversive by emphasizing the cabarets reconstructed inverted social hierarchy typical of carnival (See Figure 2.2) Rivi res illustration is rather telling in this regard, and demonstrates a vertically inverted stratification of cabaret society within the Chat Noirs walls, the conditions in which they exist spatially serving as markers of their class identity during carnival. At the bottom rung of the social ladder we see the Chat Noirs bourgeois clientele, crowded together and marked by their conspicuous dress, both waiting outside in the rain to gain access to the cabarets spectacle and remaining ignored once inside. As Riv ieres interpretation of the cabarets hierarchy ascends visually in this portrait of Chat Noir society, we see the spatial and figuratively conceived middle classes of Montmartre cabaret life: the residents of Montmartre, or as Anne de Bercy notes, the m embers of the Butte.82 The middle social stratum of cabaret life here is denoted by a less refined style of dress, yet simultaneously privileged as evidenced by their access to more personal space as well as better food and wine. Ultimately, according to Riviere at the top of the Chat Noirs social hierarchy is the bohemian artist and habitu elevated above the cabaret audience on scaffolding exemplified here by Willette himself painting Parce Domine flanked on the right by a chansonnier at the piano and on the left by a fumistic representation of Rodolphe Salis as the bishop of Montmartre, symbolizing the Sacr coeurisation of Montmartre, Salis wearing his liturgical vestments backwards and evidently in awe of Willettes mural.83 82 Anne de Bercy, A Montmartrele soir, 37. 83 The Sacrcoeurisation of Montmartre refers to a complex relationship between the community of Montmartre and the Catholic Church. Construction of the Sacred H eart Basilica (or Basilique du Sacr -
Chapter Two 61 Such a representation of the Chat Noirs imagined social space carefully reproduced several visual tropes of Bakhtins conceived aesthetic of the Rabelaisian carnivalesque: the overt mockery of church hierarchy and subversion of their social roles, visual emphasis on and celebration of bodily pleasure (as evidenced by food and wine) and the suspension, if not clear transposition of defined normative social strata by the popular classes as a mode for affecting social change.84 Clearly, Rivir es illustration situates the Chat Noir in such a carnivalesque space, displacing the contemporary elite echelons of Parisian society with the bohemian artist and positioning the popular classes of Montmartre as the lifeblood of its imagined societal ideal of unrestrained and sociopolitically destabilizing pleasure recalling Rabelais Abbaye de Thlme as a model for the bohemian utopia The Chat Noir played on these historical themes through fumisme therefore, to establish its cultural identity as a site of cultural sub version against bourgeois influence. The notion and aesthetic of Rabelais carnival informed the cabarets own subversive ideological invention in fumisme to the extent that all comparisons between the establishment and the carnivalesque, whether visual, t extual, or spatial, permitted the Chat Noir to claim its commercial endeavors as part of a broader effort within Montmartres artistic community to satirically venerate pleasure at the expense of official organs of moral and social order and those classes which benefitted most from it. Coeur) atop the Butte Montmartre began in 1875 as the Third Republics punitive response to Montmartres collective involvement in the Paris Commune of 1871 and a perceived irreverent and dangerous waning of public reli giosity in the neighborhood. The Basilica physically and symbolically manifested the triumph of a conservative moral order over Montmartre, widely considered the nucleus of rebellious fervor during the Commune, and posed a crucial point of contention and e asy target for fumistic humor and topical discussions within the cabarets artistiques of fin de siecle Montmartre. For further information see Raymond A. Jonas, Sacred Tourism and Secular Pilgrimage: Montmartre and the Basilica of SacrCoeur, in Montmar tre and the Making of Mass Culture, 108111. 84 Bakhtin defines the idea and aesthetic of the Rabelaisian carnival according to these aforementioned criteria. See Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, 2.
Chapter Two 62 In doing so, the Chat Noir was able to position its own culture as the spiritual and historical successor, and thus modern incantation of a crucial component of Frances collective national past (the esprit gaulois or Gallic spirit of France) framing Rabelais as a prototype to Montmartres bohemian tradition and thus legitimating the cabarets offered experience as a historically contingent aspect of the carnival narrative. Writing in 1886, journalist on Parisian caf cultur e JohnGrand Carteret solidifies the historical links between the cabaret Chat Noir as a legitimately bohemian Montmartre institution and Carnival in the Parisian public imagination rather concisely, designating it the modern capital of lesprit [gaulois] and a v ritable F te des Fous.85 To say that the Chat Noir was perhaps most successful at employing the narrative of the Rabelaisian carnival to the ends of better marketing its experience and entertainment as an authentic bohemian tradition does not necessarily confine the carnivalesque aesthetic to a singular moment or space in the world of the Montmartre cabaret. Indeed, the carnivalesque narrative, as both an ideological and aesthetic precedent for fumisme and the cabarets collective reinterpretati on of a strictly bohemian and Montmartrois vision of modernity found use beyond the Chat Noir.86 The Cabaret des QuatzArts, founded by established cabaretier Franois Trombert in 1893, similarly em ployed a historically conscious brand of fumisme founded i n aesthetic preoccupations with Carnival as the basis of its spectacle and nightly revue. 85 John Grand Carteret, Raphal et Gambrinus, 152. 86 For scholarly arguments concerning the cabaret as an ideological organ for envisioning bohemianism as an alternative form of modernism and la vie moderne, see Mary Gluck, Popular Bohemia: Modernism and Urban Culture in NineteenthCentury Paris, (Cambr idge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 112130.
Chapter Two 63 Located at 62 Boulevard de Clichy, only a few blocks away from the Chat Noir, the cultural origins of the QuatzArts reinforces its fumistic character: the cabaret took its name from the Bal des QuatzArts that occurred earlier in 1892. Initially conceived by students from the elite Ecole des Beaux Arts under the sponsorship of Professor of Architecture Henri Guillaume as a par invitation costume ball for Beaux Arts students the event nominally conjured the unification of the four fine arts in the Academys curriculum: architecture, painting, engraving, and sculpture (in argot, collectively referred to as the QuatzArts ) Staged at the cabaret ElyseeMontmartre, the reality of the dance revealed a far more controversial purpose, manipulating the pretense of the Academys curriculum as a cover for students to attain legal permission to showcase what would become a very public spectacle of nudity, decadence, ostentatious dress and other breaches of public morality including inebriation in public space.87 The event proved a provocative publicity stunt and a genuine exercise in fumisterie having successfully and very publicly lampooned the academy to contr oversial ends where urban space became itself a site for venerating bodily pleasure and excess, which had remained for some time pertinent concerns within the Parisian public psyche regarding a perceived decline in public morality. At the time the ball was staged, such acts of decadence had thus been scapegoated within the contemporary political discourse and imaged within French society as the source of such national woes as changing gender relations in the public sphere, defeat in the FrancoPrussian Wa r, and the civil war that erupted in its aftermath with the advent of the 1871 Commune.88 The Bal des QuatzArts then, 87 Lela Felter Kerley, The Art of Posing Nude: Models, Moralists, and the 1893 Bal des Quatz Arts in French Historical Studies 33, no. 2 (2010): 6976. 88 Phillip Dennis Cate, Paris Seen Through Artists Eyes, in The Graphic Arts and French Society, 18711914, Phillip Dennis Cate, ed., (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1988), 23 27.
Chapter Two 64 engaged the Montmartre bohemian community on its own terms as a provocative, fumistic political and sociocultural commentary. It proved t o be so well attended that popular demand elicited an annual restaging of the ball at a different venue within Montmartre each successive year. The following year, Trombert, proprietor of the recently defunct cabaret Lyon dOr saw a lucrative opportunity in the wake of the balls public provocation and exploited its name and image as the basis for a new cabaret artistique in Montmartre. Trombert, having witnessed the trajectory of Rodolphe Salis commercial success at the Chat Noir, adhered rigidly to the cabarets business model. The QuatzArts nightly revue and media for marketing were so similarly structured to the Chat No irs that the two establishments shared a common circle of literary reg ulars, contributors, and habitus. Trombert even employed Goudeau as the editor in chief of the QuatzArts weekly publication and eventually in the same role for the cabarets improvised journal Le Mur showcased on a wall in the cabarets dedicated perfo rmance space, the locale subject to change weekly and without notice in both form and content as well as those solicited for contributions. Similarly to the Chat Noir, the interior space of the QuatzArts cabaret reflected an aesthetic obsession with the Rabelaisian carnival Comprising three rooms, the locale, the salon de caf, and the cabaret gn ral access to each was stratified and restricted to clientele on the basis of social class. Each room was adorned to evoke the memory of the Rabelaisian conviviality and emphasized the collective as the source of creative inspiration, rhetorically posited as the ideological basis for the interdisciplinary nature of bohemian artistic production, or the unification of
Chapter Two 65 the QuatzArts.89 Within the cabaret, a nigh tly revue took similar form to the Chat Noir, primarily consisting of visual exhibitions of regulars art, poetry performances, improvised monologues and dialogues between Trombert, serving as master of ceremonies and the audience, and occasionally, a stag ing of contemporary theater pieces. The QuatzArts furthermore reiterated a carnivalesquethemed topical fumisme within the content of its revues, although relying on different means from the ostensibly verbal spontaneity in the Chat Noir, instead renderi ng Le Mur as its focal point for performing Montmartre bohemian identity. Olga Anna Dull provides a rather comprehensive analysis of Le Mur s relation to both modern interpretations of Montmartre identity and bohemianism as well as its reliance on Rabelai sian humor as a means to legitimate its bohemian identity as a historical continuity within the narrative of the carnivalesque. Indeed, Dull notes that the content of Le Mur beyond its multiple artistic forms and genres, consistently invoked numerous tropes characteristic of Rabelaisian humor: emphasis on the bodily grotesque and lower half (primarily exercised through a voyeuristic examination of the female nude and feminine anatomical function); the use of wordplay and argot, or the language of the market place as a mode of topical political and social commentary; and the inversion of the dominant social hierarchy as a vehicle for mediating bohemianbourgeois relations and predicating the cabarets bohemian identity on a broader development within the Montmartre artistic community to su bvert bourgeois cultural mores.90 89 Olga Anna Dull, From Rabelais to the Avant Garde: Wordplays and Parody in the Wall Journal Le Mur, in The Spirit of Montmartre: Cabarets, Humor, and the Avant Garde, 18751905, Phillip Dennis Cate and Mary Shaw, eds., (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996), 204 208. 90 Ibid., 208220.
Chapter Two 66 My purpose here however is not to reiterate Olga Dulls claims, nor is my concern the content or form o f Le Mur as the QuatzArts primary claim to a broader Montmartre bohemian identity. Rather, I am interested in the ways by which the cabaret collectively manipulated such historical comparisons with conceptions of modern bohemianism to authenticate its institutional culture as bohemian in character. Certainly, the spontaneous nature of artistic production within the QuatzArts occasioned significant publicity within th e Montmartre artistic community. T hat publicity ultimately fulfilled Tromberts intent to brand his cabaret as a controversial, provocative, and fumistic application of bohemian ideology and authentic example of Montmartres modern bohemian tradition. Images marketing the cabarets revue conflated its popularity and significance within the M ontmartre community, as well as its convivial reputation, with the historical legacy of Carnival it channeled as its theme Citing the QuatzArts as a definitive example of Montmartres collective identity as a destination for the bohemian prerogative of artistic production as well as commercial leisure and entertainment, a 1900 travel guide to Montmartre for example, refers to it as the establishment most typical of the joyous butte, and the truest Montmartrois cabaret, with a clientele composed of pa inters, artists, and literary types.91 Contemporary media coverage and representations of the QuatzArts primarily within the fumiste Montmartre based newspaper Le Courier Fran ais reinforce cultural comparisons between the cabaret and the more subversive elements of the carnivalesque: the May 23 1886 front page of Le Courier, for example, portrays the bohemianism espoused by the QuatzArts and other Montmartre cabarets as a metaph orical Gargantua, 91 Edmond Depas and Victor Meusy, Guide de ltranger Mont martre, 5253.
Chapter Two 67 taking over the city center of Pa ris, the Notre Dame and the le de la Cit by force, alluding to Montmartres displacement of traditional influences upon Parisian culture in favor of modern bohemianisms interdisciplinary and convivial, if not egalitarian method of cultural production.92 A month earlier, the April 4 Special Incoherent Issue images Montmartres collective cabaret culture as an actual Rabelaisian carnival, depicting several prominent cabaretiers, among them Franois Trombe rt of the QuatzArts, as knights participating in a drunken procession around the portrait of Rabelais.93 To better empha size the subversive and potentially sociocultural and politically destabilizing elements of the QuatzArts bohemian identity, the cab arets own advertisements often capitalized on its fumistic connection with the annual eponymous ball. An 1895 charcoal illustration by Abel Truchet titled Les Grecs for example, depicts the cabaret as a Grecian Bacchanalia, accentuating preconceived noti ons of decadence, pleasure, and sexual deviance that initially arose in the controversy of the 1892 Bal des QuatzArts, positioning the cabarets bohemian identity and tradition as a threat to the dominant, and largely bourgeois moral order of Parisian politics. This palpable historical consciousness, as it existed in both the Chat Noir and QuatzArts, demonstrates the extent to which a singular narrative and aesthetic ideologically and culturally legitimated Montmartres collective interpretation of bohe mian identity in both modern and historical discourses. The use of such a salient past memory as the Rabelaisian carnival, celebrated within and without the French institutional literary canon as characteristic of national identity, helped the individual c abarets craft respective claims to a common cultural thread: reinvented, reimagined, and 92 Le Courrier franais, (May 23, 1886): 1. 93 Le Courrier franais, (April 4, 1886): 1.
Chapter Two 68 reapplied to the Montmartre communitys artistic proclivities. In appropriating the narrative of the Rabelaisian carnival and its associated stylistic tropes for humor and modes for acceptable social critique, the Chat Noir and QuatzArts cabarets effectuated an ideology that underscored continuities and suppressed discrepancies between a celebrated past and explicitly modern present. In doing so, they effectively constructed a collective memory that allowed for the structural adaptation o f the Renaissanceera carnivalesque into Montmartres contemporary bohemian tradition and cultural identity as such by suspending normative configurations of power and mediating bohemian and bourgeois relations through ostensibly subversive forms of histor ically informed humor. Upon further analysis however, the degree to which these cabarets successfully constructed a bohemian identity endemic to Montmartre, contingent upon the subversion of norms and customs typical of the Parisian bourgeoisie, can be int errogated for the implications that might suggest otherwise. IV. T he Myth of a Bohemian Discourse : History s Reification in the Cabaret The established his toriography in the field of finde sicle Montmartre and scholarly discussions of any popularly conceived bohemianism there, as well as its role in negotiating the cultural significance of the cabarets artistiques as organs for imagining Montmartre identity have just about exhausted the dialectic of bohemian bourgeois relations as a foundational aspect of bohemian identity formation in the quarter However, the question remains contentious. Indeed, the notion of a symbiotically inimical relationship between the bourgeoisie and marginal bohemian communities of Paris in articulating their respective identities provides the ba sis for Jerrold Seigels survey in Bohemian Paris H e argues that the advent of the cabaret as a form of
Chapter Two 69 commercially mediating bohemian identity in Montmartre constituted but a step in a process of gradual reconciliation between the Parisian bourgeois and bohemian communities.94 Seigels metaphor isolates Parisian bohemia as a space where bourgeois men denounce their social identities in a prolonged episode of acting out only to effectively repent by return ing to their origins after having realized a predetermined course of rebellion.95 While there is undoubtedly some veracity to and well substantiated evidence in favor of Seigels argument, I have formulated my argument in this chapter, examining the uses of historical consciousness w ithin Montmartres bohemian cabaret community to predicate a digression from established knowledge in the field. I assert a fundamental point of c ontention within Seigels claim. I instead argue that the bohemian community as it e xisted in Montmartre at th e fin de sicle was not a step in any reconciliatory development in bohemianbourgeois relations but rather that the two were never disparate entities to begin with, that bohemian Montmartre, as expressed through the cultural organ of the cabaret artistiqu e was fundamentally the invention of the bourgeoisie. I conclude this chapter by revisiting the evidence I have already offered to examine the ways in which the cabarets interrogated here did not by any means utilize historical narratives to subvert bourg eois cultural normativity, but instead reinforce and reproduce it through the construction of elaborate spatial illusions in which traditional markers of power and social hierarchy can no longer be theoretically applied in any culturally relevant way. As s uch, any claim to bohemian legitimacy or broader Montmartre movement to subvert bourgeois influence through art, I maintain, is illusory at best. 94 Jerrold Seigel, Bohemian Paris 3 30, and 215241. 95 Ibid., 8 14.
Chapter Two 70 The commercial modes by which all four cabarets examined in this chapter performed their claims to bohemian identity through the adaptation of history into a consumable experience indeed belie the content or structuring of the spectacles they produced. At a fundamental level, each establishment maintains a consumer oriented capitalistic mode of production where profit remains the transparent end goal of each institution. In the case of those cabarets that utilized narratives of class based hostility, violence, and mutual antagonism as the ideological basis for an experience that sought to reproduce an authentical ly bohemian way of life to the detriment of the bourgeois public, historical moments of social violence provided a rather easy pretense for transparently aggressive marketing strategies where the recreation of hostile social conditions remained vaguely dis concerting and alienating to the public, yet ultimately prompted them to consume more. Any attempts to utilize historical memory to any politically motivated ends in these instances became ancillary at best to the fantasy of a commodified vision of the pas t, and any proposed discourse on bohemianism was trivialized in the novelty of the commercial experience that the constructed ideal of a liminal lifestyle in Montmartre, spatially between the urban core of Paris and its hinterland, presented. The claim that the cabaret, as a form of cultural institution was foremost a commercial enterprise and secondarily site for artistic production can best be outlined in an examination of Aristide Bruants cabaret, Le Mirliton Richard Sonn goes to great length to not e that despite Bruants leveling of class privilege within the establishments walls, the cabarets decorum and pretense of abrasive popular forms of communication largely upheld bourgeois norms of qualifying individual access to privilege through
Chapter Two 71 social i dentities.96 Michael Wilson furthermore elicits attention to B ruants popular appeal to the dclass s of bohemian Paris via political rhetoric, asserting his personal betrayal of his own underclass origins to the pursuit of profit, jeopardizing his bohemian credibility to the point where even Le Mirliton, an establishment founded upon antagonism towards the bourgeoisie, belied its claims to bohemian authenticity. A ccording to Wilson, such incongruities opened up that artifice to public criticism. The embourgeoisement of Le Mirlitons clientele, as well as Bruants eventual retirement to a private estate in Courtenay and withdrawal altogether from urban life allude to the entrepreneurial inclinations, and not necessarily any invested project in developing a historically informed identity for a modern bohemian lifestyle, that impelled Le Mirlitons operation as a cabaret artistique.97 Similarly, the Chat Noir cabaret presents a complex image of how the commodification and commercial mode of artistic production obfuscates any clear intentions behind the invention of a bohemian discourse and Montmartre regional identity founded in the historical legacies of Rabelais carnival and its subversive implication. Indeed, fumisme, as the ideological pilla r of the Chat Noirs imagined vision of a utopian bohemian Montmartre positioned both the cabaret and the Montmartre artistic community against the Parisian bourgeoisie, defining its cultural identity as contingent upon the political and social undermining of the enfranchised discourses of the Third Republic, as Munholland notes. Yet the uses of the carnivalesque narrative within the Chat Noir belie that subversive artifice. Scholars have long debated the efficacy and cultural significance 96 Richard D. Sonn, Anarchism and Cultural Politics in Finde Sicle France, 129 137. 97 Michael Wilson, The Eccentric Masculinity of Aristide Bruant, in The Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 36 (2008): 206208.
Chapter Two 72 of the Rabelaisian carnival as an effective mode of cultural criticism. Notably, Natalie Zemon Davis argues in her essay The Reasons of Misrule that Carnival simultaneously created a forum for real voices of dissent to be heard, for ideas of political change and structural overhauls of society to be made concrete.98 Davis however also makes an effective argument for a safety valve theory of Carnival, where the momentary inversion of normative societal order through parody, humor, and often incisively mordant satire ultimately provided a medium through which discontent was quelled and social tensions relieved.99 Such a theoretical understanding of Carnival as a mode of reinforcing dominant discourses by constructing a pleasurable and ephemeral mode of release for oppositional sentiment ultimately finds relevance in the aesthetic and discursive expression of the carnivalesque within the bohemian discourse of Montmartre cabaret life, above all in the Chat Noir. Indeed, art historian T.J. Clark notes, to some contentious end, that the socio spatial conditions that the Chat Noir branded as bohemian, satirical, and convivial or egalitarian as a part of its institutional culture and typical of the Montmartre bohemian lifestyle largely reflect some degree of class consciousness and a clear stratification of social space inside the cabarets walls.100 While ostensibly fostering some degree of class mingling and structured according to carnivalesque tradition, the trajectory of the Chat Noirs marketing strategies betray s the supposed privileging of the bohemian artist as the apex of cabaret society and largely privileges bourgeois discourses even as the 98 Natalie Zemon Davis, The Reasons of Misrule, in Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford : Stanford University Press, 1975), 9798 and 121123. 99 Ibid. 100 T. J. Clark, The Bar at the Folies Bergres, in The Wolf and the Lamb: Popular Culture in France, From the Old Regime to the Twentieth Century, Jacques Beauroy, Marc Bertrand, Edward T. Gargan, eds., (Saratoga, CA: Anma Libri, 1977), 247.
Chapter Two 73 cabarets decorum mocked them. Steven Moore Whiting for example, note s Rodolphe Salis (who was himself of bourgeois origin) alienatio n of his habitu circle after relocating the cabaret from 84 Rochechouart to the Boulevard Victor Masse, the focus of the cabarets marketed experience shifting from providing publicity to artists and literary upstarts toward the popular demands of his mos t moneyed clientele, installing a shadow theater to the detriment of regular performers, refusing them payment, and eventually hiring a personal bouncer to deflect hostile verbal attacks and expel unwanted critics from the cabarets space as he saw fit.101 U ltimately, the Chat Noir did indeed maintain the aesthetic artifice of Car ni vals world upside down, but privileged the demands of the bourgeois public as its method for growth and commercial expansion. The social decorum of the Chat Noir largely upholds such notions of bourgeois normativity despite its marketed historically informed and ordained bohemianism Its mode for mediating gender, the subject of my next chapter, serves as a particularly salient point for affirming that claim, as traditionally bo urgeois codes of gender sociability were maintained within the cabaret, as male homosociality was a rudimentary part of the cabaret experience, with women being deprived entry entirely unless in the company of a man, and then furthermore banned from consum ing alcohol or food. The QuatzArts Le Mur as Olga Anna Dull observes, reproduced that patriarchal code of social decorum, visualizing cultural mores of feminine expectations and notions of female restriction and domesticity, where men governed the public sphere, of which the cabaret was fundamentally constituent.102 While the following chapter provides much more depth on 101 Steven Moore Whiting, Satie the Bohemian: From Cabaret to Concert Hall, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 4445. 102 Olga Anna Dull, From Rabelais to the Avant Garde, 228.
Chapter Two 74 gender relations in the cabaret and collective imagination of Montmartres bohemian community, gender does serve some utility in dem ystifyin g the pretense of Carnival and other historical narratives as discursive precedent for subversive entertainment, socially normative behaviors and bohemian identity in finde sicle Montmartre. I thus conclude my study in this chapter by revisiting the discursive uses of history within the cabarets of Montmartres nominally bohemian community at the fin de sicle. Ultimately, narratives of historical antagonism and subversion aided the entrepreneurial cabaretiers of Montmartre in reifying the neig hborhoods identity as a historical extension of a subversive past. The leisurely experience of the cabaret appropriated narratives of historical moments of cultural and political subversion to form an ideological justification for Montmartres bohemian community and its cultural identity as a society antithetical to the bourgeoisie. Ironically, however, in attempting to frame Montmartres collective identity as bohemian and anti bourgeois, those responsible for the cultural and artistic production within t he cabarets relied on the tools and modes of production invented by the bourgeois classes to largely reproduce norms and structures of sociability that typified bourgeois culture. The pretenses of historical influence and the creation of a bohemian ideolog ical tradition to legitimate their modern interpretations of past memories were ultimately lost in the cabarets shortlived profitability, their subversive content and any meaningful implications lost in the experience of a momentary pleasurable spectacle, the end goal of which was always to generate revenue. Such developments, I maintain, point to an expression of bourgeois cultural normativity within Montmartres collective consciousness, where bohemia provides a salient medium for the enterprising class es to reify Montmartres past and present identities as a
Chapter Two 75 consumable experience, marketed primarily to the bourgeoisie. Ultimately, these trends point to bohemia being of bourgeois invention, its modernity and historical consciousness evidence of more entr epreneurial inclinations where, bohemian Montmartre is contained by the Parisian bourgeoisie and its own mode of economic production in commercial capitalism. Bohemian Montmartres cabarets, therefore, perpetuate the notion of Davis safety valve theory of carnival reinforcing bourgeois cultural dominance through the appropriation of subversive past traditions as affectations for ostensibly subversive forms of pleasure as a mode of momentary leisure and catharsis Consequently, the cabaret artistique as an organ for the production of bohemian cultural identity, fail s to undermine, subvert, or otherwise critique bourgeois material and commercial culture in any significant or transformative way.
Chapter Three 76 Nombreux les philistins, rares les femmes : Cabaret and the Gendering of Bohemia In this chapter I present what I understand as the most conspicuous evidence of bourgeois cultural normativity in the bohemian social sphere of the Montmartre cabaret: its social codes for gender relations. My argument is based on the claim that the cabarets artistiques of fin de sicle Montmartre utilized images of women to visually represent bohemian identity in contrast to bourgeois cultural norms and intentionally expressed subversive behaviors to elicit that effect. The construction of that collective identity entai led specific conditions for w omens r oles in cabaret culture. First the ideal bohemian women was imagined such that she connote a visual threat to Parisian public morality, yet not be aligned with the bourgeois ideation of modernity presented in the repre sentation of the femme nouvelle. As such, representations of the ideal bohemian women did not position them as occupying active roles in caba ret public life or social space. Consequently, images of bohemian womens deviation from traditional gender norms a lso sought to discern the cultural function of the cabaret as an organ for Montmartre bohemianism, which is to say, simultaneously reinterpret the overt sexuality of the femme nouvelle as an avatar for bohemian Montmartres alluring public pleasures and ne gotiate social structures that govern sociability between men and women. My aim in this study is twofold. On one hand, I want to provide an adequately detailed portrait of the visual uses of femininity in coding the Montmartre cabaret as a masculine social space and gendering different components of bohemian identity there There are a number of modes through which t he cabarets imagined bohemian identity as being gendered masculine all of which unders tand femininity as a pot entially threatening component to the bohemian condition. The focus of this chapter will be the collective
Chapter Three 77 construction of a feminine bohemian ty pe that existed visually in the cabarets cultural imagination: the Montmartroise. Male cabaret goers and contributors alike constructed the Montmartroise as bohemias counterpoint to both bourgeois notions of modern femininity and traditional public notio ns of normative gender roles in order to signify a bohemian identity that historian of Parisian bohemianism Michael Wilson aptly labels as transgressive creativity. According to Wilsons model for the gendering of bohemian identity t he Montmart roise fem ale types transgress ed traditional boundaries between feminine and masculine domains and thus threaten men by assuming the ideally bohemian masculine prerogative: artistic creativity and the production of bohemian culture. I argue then, that in order to t hen code artistic cultural production as a masculine domain within the bohemian social stratum, the cabarets of Montmartre, the quarters primary organs for producing bohemian identity and its culture needed to imagine the ideal bohemian woman as dually opposite in image to the bourgeois woman and as a real social threat to bohemian masculinity as well .103 Ultimately, I contend that the visual uses of the Montmartroise as an image of a bohemian feminine ideal are multifaceted. Being the constructions of self identified bohemian men, they negotiate bohemian gender norms in rather complex ways. Indeed, they form a picture of how the bohemian interpretation of the ideal woman subverted normatively bourgeois gender rol es by challenging ideas of domesticity and sexual liberation. Yet images of the Montmartroise are not limited in function to only 103 See Michael Wilson, Sans les femmes quest ce qui nous resterait?: Gender and Tr ansgression in Bohemian Montmartre in Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity, edited by Julia Epstein and Kristina Straub, (New York and London: Routledge, 1991), 196 197.
Chapter Three 78 constructing a bohemian feminine form. I argue that the Montmartroise types visualized sexuality also envisaged the vulnerabi lities of bohemian men. In this way, the Montmartroise was also objectified as a means to masculinize bohemian space by fixing images of bohemian women as threats to traditionally male domains in the bohemian consciousness. Certainly, such a use of the images of the Montmartroise allowed men to marginalize them in key ways: the ideal bohemian woman became an object of visual pleasure and sexual allure that Montmartre aimed to present as its own, and served to masculinize bohemian identity, bohemian culture, and the spaces in which both were produced: the cabaret artistique. In A Montmartre, le soir, Anne de Bercy perhaps offers the most succinct and precise evaluation of such a dynamic for gender sociability in bohemian space, qualifying the makeup of the ca baret as nombreux les philistins, rares les femmes. 104 In this way, I maintain that t he Montmartroises visual presence and uses in cabaret life within the Chat Noir and QuatzArts upheld traditionally patriarchal protocols of s ociability between men an d women. As such, bohemian gender norms do not constitute a cultural expression of bohemian identity, but rather a bourgeois interpretation and commodification of it. The gendered hierarchy of Montmartres bohemian culture marginalized its female constitue ncy by effectively engaging femin inity as subject to male control and want Michael Wilson recognizes the complex irony of such conditions, remarking that bohemian discourse thus engages gender in terms that appear similar to those dominant in bourgeois s ociety, as according to him, both cultures are created and sustained by menmen are fundamentally superior to 104Translated from the original F rench as many [were] the Philistines, rare [were] the women. See Anne de Bercy and Armand Ziws, A Montmartre, le soir : cabarets et chansonniers dhier, (Paris: B. Grasset, 1951), 37.
Chapter Three 79 womenand female sexuality is bound to male desire.105 Wilson maintains that such similaritie s are superficial, yet I disagree. Such conditions merit further attention and constitute a large part of my argument in both this study and my broader project on Montmartre bohemian culture as performed through the cabaret. The social stratification of bohemian space in the Montmartre cabaret along gender ed lines, I argue, is an expression of bourgeois normativity, despite bohemias outward critique of such norms, due to the intended comm ercial function of the cabaret. My intentions in this chapter are not, however, limited to presenting a historical image of the Montmartre cabaret as an exclusively masculine cultural production. While cultural norms espoused in Montmartre cabaret culture certainly sought to marginalize and objectify women as visual pleasures of ambiguous morality, there remained space for women patrons to reclaim agency as not only participants in the cabaret spectacle, but contributors to their production as well. While cases of female participation in Montmartre bohemian cultural production are limited in number, those instances where women artists emerged to public prominence offer profound insight into bohemian conceptions of gender performativity. The second component of this chapters discussion elects to focus on one such inst ance of female contribution to bohemian life in the Montmartre cabaret captured in the work of poet and Montmartre habitue Marie Krysinska. Historiographical attempts to produce a narrative that emphasizes Krysinskas exceptional role as the only female c ontributing artist in the bohemian Montmartre elite have obscured her work and uses of 105 Michael L. Wilson, Capped in Hope, Clad in Youth, Shod in Courage: Mascul init y and Marginality in Fin de Sic le Paris found in Con fronting Modernity in Finde Si cle France: Bodies, Minds and Gender, (Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 205.
Chapter Three 80 bohemian feminine types to attain agency as a female bohemian artist in favor of underscoring the cabaret circles attempt to masculinize her. Yet despite collective att empts to nullify her femininity, Krysinskas contributions to cabaret life often explore her position as a feminine other by utilizing many of the tropes that men attributed to the Montmartroise as a means to construct her own bohemian identity. Her work, I argue, appropriates the canon of female stereotypes constructed and perpetuated by her male counterparts in order to give agency to the women cast as objects of visual pleasure. Her poetry demonstrates an understanding of feminine sexual power as crucial to female identity and the realization of personal fulfillment and accordingly subverts prescribed protocols for bohemian gender norms and sociability Krysinskas poetic use of a number of cultural female types as espoused in the cabarets Chat Noir and Q uatzArts will be investigated to provide adequate context for the historical implications of her exceptional role as a female artist in a patriarchal social sphere, and prove womens crucial functions in cabaret life beyond their roles as objects of spec tacle and visual pleasure. Finally, I will question the historiographical assumption of feminine lack of agency within Montmartre cabaret culture. While demographic studies of gender and participation or attendance to Montmartre cultural productions in the fin de sicle demonstrate a socioeconomic and gendered divide between performers and audience, we might rather interrogate the nature of the production of such historical narratives that function to suppress the voices of female actors in Montmartre bohem ian life.106 Ultimately, such narratives perpetuate a nostalgic and historiographically problematic image of the fin de sicle cabaret as a benign and momentary historical spectacle, 106 Ibid
Chapter Three 81 ignoring the contradictory and implications of the culture of pleasure in t he Montmartre cabaret. More broadly considered, such a complicated picture of how bohemian Montmartre cabarets conceived and negotiated gender in public space is indeed telling of their discursive role within the Parisian debate on social normativity. Cons tructing masculine and feminine identities positioned against both traditional public mores and those of an emergent bourgeoisie conflated with the danger of modernity, bohemian Montmartre ultimately reproduced many of the social structural problems it sou ght to collectively undermine.107 To realize these claims, I first consider the intended uses of bohemian cabaret spaces in Montmartre at the time. Emile Goudeau, effectively canonized historiographically as one of bohemian Montmartres intellectual founders and original creative forces, maintains that the cabarets he frequented and helped operate were fundamentally sites of commercial consumption.108 Goudeau explains that bohemian Montmartres intent was to appropriate the tools of consumer culture to conceptualize its uses as an expression of the Montmartre way of life, but concedes the initial intent was lost in the commercial reproduction and commodification of the cabarets artistic origins, lamenting th e rampant consumerist appeal and changing marketing strategies of Rodolphe Salis in selling the Chat Noir experience as a spectacle commodity. Ultimately, his allegations uphold contemporary notions of the bohemian cabaret a s a mode of mass consumption as well as identity formation by means of artistic expression, which he assigns to the nostalgic memory of a bygone vieux Montmartre .109 Accordingly, 107 Ibid. 108 Emile Goudeau, Paris qui consomme, Tableaux de Paris, (Paris: Chamerot et Renouard, 1893), 1 4. 109 Emile Goudeau, Petit bleu la butte, in Guide de lEtranger Montmartre 1214.
Chapter Three 82 Montmartre as a destination of commercial consumption, entertained a clientele of predominantly bourgeois men, and exercised their interpretations of bohemian identity through the contradictory socioeconomic framework of capitalism: the institutions and culture of which bohemianism rejected and palpably defined its identity against. The media through which the bohemian constructions of ideal gender norms emerged validate the cabarets stated function as sites of mass co nsumption and commercial capitalism. The images and texts evaluated here for their content existed contemporaneously as mass reproductions and publicly visible media: advertising posters, pulp novels available dans toutes librairies and popular journal and newspaper illustrations, all of which Michael Wilson identifies as belonging to the distinctly bourgeois nascent commodity culture of consumer capitalism.110 That the appropriation of bourgeois modes of production to commodify and market Montmartres cultural identity and historical memory also entails the reproduction of bourgeois cultural norms and protocols for gender roles and sociability to e ntertain and comfort the cabarets primary target demographic and constituent part of its overall clientele seems a self evident and deliberate, if unarticulated assumption. The cabarets primary function, then, was ultimately to provide commercial pleasur e and spectacle to a predominantly bourgeois male public, despite intentions of conviviality and a communal culture that broke down class barriers. It follows that the cabarets constructed an androcentric culture that utilized images of women as objects of masculine sexual desire and played on contradictions present in contemporary Parisian public discourses on gender relations among the bourgeois social spheres: such a 110 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Cultur e 181.
Chapter Three 83 bohemian culture was conceived to reproduce bourgeois culture in subtle, yet crucial way s to market a consumable, attractive, and yet vaguely foreign experience to a bourgeois clientele.111 Bohemian gender norms thus inevitably bore some similarities to the ways the Parisian bourgeoisie engaged gender, and differed in those ways that maintained the novelty and allure of bohemian identity insofar as it remained the cabarets principal commodity. T he culture of bohemian Montmartre and the institutions that served to articulate its culture in fin de sicle Paris then, identified itself in fundamen tally gendered terms. The politics of negotiating gender there remains a complex discourse, yet several plain conditions emerge: bohemian artistry and the pro duction of bohemian identity were coded masculine, furthermore codependent on ideals of a distinct bohemian femininity to legitimate its virility. Bohemia thus engaged women in hierarchical ways, effectively marginalizing them from the collective consciousness of what constituted the identity of a bohemian Montmartre. While women did not comprise a constituent part of the bohemian community, however, their visual representation remained an integral part of its operations as the basis of its formulation of a cultural identity distinct from that of Paris. The representation of women in multiple situationa l contexts affirmed a type of womanhood similar in sexuality yet overtly different from the bourgeois norm. Yet such representations ultimately served to deprive women of agency as actors in bohemian culture. Such a trend remains historically problematic i n crucial ways that need to be 111 For a more broadly considered argument on the commercial functions of the cabaret and bohemias engagement with commodity culture as a means to reproduce identity, as well as the social implications of that development, see T.J Clark, The Painting of Modern Life : Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 235 239, and Mary Gluck Popular Bohemia, 124128
Chapter Three 84 examined in the context of the historiography and historical production that has sought to addre ss this subject. I: Women in Public: Constructing the Parisian Feminine Threat Women occupied a contentious space in the Parisia n popular cultural imagination during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Indeed, gender roles in the public sphere were changing rapidly, as were public perceptions of what behaviors remained morally acceptable as well as appropriately masculi ne and feminine. In her study Disruptive Acts Mary Louise Roberts documents in great length the emergent trends and paradigm shifts that enacted such changes as well as the ensuing debates over womens sociocultural functions. R oberts attributes popular upheaval over womens public roles in part to the emergence of a specific type that became equated with both modernity and moral decay in French culture: the femme nouvelle According to Roberts, the femme nouvelle signified a depa rture from traditional regulatory norms of gender, deviating from roles and domains codified as feminine in the French cultural imagination and partaking in those coded masculine. More concretely, the femme nouvelle was visually presented as a woman wh o entered the workforce and nontraditional domestic relationships, disputed male defined standards of modest public dress and fashion, expressed an aesthetically overt sexuality, and most fundamentally, ventured beyond her natural place of the familial h ousehold.112 In this way, the femme nouvelle conjured the image of a threat to the status quo of public morality in metropolitan France, and provides an adequate context for how gender was negotiated, conceived, and performed in popular cultural forms within fin de sicle urban life. 112 Mary Louise Roberts, Disruptive Acts : The New Woman in Finde Si cle France, (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 3 and 1947.
Chapter Three 85 Certainly, the femme nouvelle signified a cultural development that empowered women to, in part perform active roles in public life and negotiate topics that had been coded culturally masculine domains. Yet, in this way, the fe mme nouvelle was not a novel idea. Women had been prominent and distinguished actors in Parisian public life since the Enlightenment period, fulfilling certain roles as a means to empower themselves while challenging traditional notions of gender normativity in more conservative imaginations. Those women that did attain prominence in the traditionally masculinized public sphere ultimately cultivated class specific sociocultural connotations as being of the urban elite, which is to say both the emergent bour geoisie and the Parisian aristocracy, in the public mind.113 The femme nouvelles emergence in and alongside the nascent commodity culture of mass consumer forms of capitalism in Paris at the fin de sicle in effect cemented that trend. As such, her visual p resence in the media of mass consumer culture easily attributed her invention to the emergent bourgeois classes responsible for propagating those images. The femme nouvelle s contentious association with mass consumerism in the public imagination of fin de sicle Paris, vis vis her emergence in the marketing strategies of new modes of consumption like the grands magasins (department stores) and advertising poster,114 remains a useful lens through which we may consider the bohemian cabarets artistiques of fin de sicle Montmartre The cabarets utilized the femme nouvelles cultural legacy as a means to reinterpret femininity as it embodied and 113 Joan B. Landes, Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution, (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1988), 2325. 114 For a more comprehensive study of womens roles in mediating modernity and gender norms through visual and consumer culture in fin de sicle Paris, see Introduction, Artificial Paradise, and Fleurs du mal in Elizabeth K. Menon, Evil By Design: The Creation and Marketing of the Femme Fatale (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 116, 4368, and 127163.
Chapter Three 86 negotiated bohemian gender norms. However, bohemian Montmartre understood the cultural link between the femme nouvelle and modernity rather differently and instead situated her discursively in the dichotomy of bourgeois bohemian culture wars. Despite the femme nouvelles ostensible threat to Parisian public morality, bohemian Montmartre rejected her sexual autonom y as an expression of consumer capitalism and by extension, a reproduction of expanding bourgeois cultural influence, to which bohemia would always be resistant.115 Given that Montmartre cabaret culture was a predominantly masculine social space, the rejecti on of the femme nouvelle may be interpreted in the context of a broader trend within cabaret life: bohemian Montmartres c ollective attempt to marginalize women from bohemian society by attributing to them an implicit and conflated association with the mod ernity of bourgeois capitalism. II T he Montmartroise: Transgressive Femininity and the Masculinization of Bohemia Asserting that Montmartre bohemian culture was male oriented is a necessary condition to better understanding womens social function in bohemian life on the butte. Both the social spheres responsible for producing and performing cabaret spectacles and their audiences were exclusively male, if of different socioeconomic strata. Resident editor of both the Chat Noir and QuatzArts in house publications Emile Goudeaus autobiographical Dix ans de bohme corroborates the cabarets privileging of masculinity. Recounting the individuals that comprised the entirety of the Chat Noirs elite habitu circle, Goudeau names only male arti sts, contributors, writers, and guests 115H. Hazel Hahn, Images of W omen : Discerning Consumers, Fl aneuses, and Vulnerable Women, in Scenes of Parisian Modernity : Cultu re and Consumption in the Nineteenth Century, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 192198.
Chapter Three 87 among them.116 Gender homogeneity was a condition of bohemian life even prior to the advent of the cabaret in Montmartre, as both the Bon Bock dinners and Hydropathes meetings that predated any formally organized pleasure culture excluded women from participation.117 The notable exception to such limitations remained Sarah Bernhardt, who received invitations to the Hydropathes meetings and Bon Bock dinners in Montmartre on the stipulation that she obscure the visual presentation of wom anhood in the company of men. Bernhardts sense of belonging in Montmartre bohemian life was contingent on her visual masculinization as a travesti. Wilson notes that as Bernhardt withdrew f rom bohemian life in Montmartre, bohemian representations of her increasingly feminized her and eventually ascribed to her the role of queen of the bourgeoisie.118 Such representations demonstrate bohemian Montmartres fundamental rejection of femininity a s an integral component of bohemian discourse: bohemian space was gendered masculine. The cabarets artistiques that emerged in fin de sicle Montmartre and constituted the mainstay of the quarters multiple organs for public life and the formation of a col lective regional identity also enforced male only social codes albeit to a different effect Attempting to transgress social and cultural barriers by promoting class mingling, the cabarets proved a salient exercise in blending elements of haute and popula r culture by means of commercial reproduction.119 As a result, their operative and institutional culture reinforced the ideological proclivities of their target audiences. In those cases where the cab arets targeted homogenously male audiences as in the case of the cabarets 116 Emile Goudeau, Dix ans de bohme 258. 117 Olga Anna Dull, From Rabelais to the AvantGarde, in The Spirit of Montmartre 228. 118 Michael Wilson, Capped in Hope, 204. 119 Michael Wilson, Portrait of the Artist as a Louis XIII Chair, 181.
Chapter Three 88 Chat Noir and QuatzArts, the establishments, patrons, staff, and performers alike upheld popular notions of normative gender roles. The Chat Noir, for example, only permitted women access to the audience on the condition that they were t o be accompanied by a man. Single women were by extension barred entry entirely. Once admitted to the audience, all women were prohibited from consuming the beer and French fries served in house, instead only permitted to drink tea or coffee.120 Such exclusions help to highli ght the blatantly gendered discrimination present in cabaret life, demonstrating that feminine identity and roles within the establishments communal culture were of male design. Similarly, male habitus in the cabarets Chat Noir and QuatzArts were responsible for visualizing bohemian identity as distinctly masculine, yet with a feminine component that destabil ized contemporary gender norms and notions of public propriety among other uses Such a project necessitated the co llective formulation of a bohemian feminine type to embody Montmartres ideal woman: the Montmartroise. An avatar of not only Montmartre bohemian femininity but also the quartiers s ociocultural identity and mores the Montmartroise relied on tropes present in the image of the femme nouvelle, particularly her menacingly ambiguous sexuality and extensive engagement with the Parisian public sphere, imagined or real to present a cogent image of bohemian identity Yet for all the threats the Montmartroise pose d to public morality, it was necessary that she also express a co ntained threat, benign enough not to emasculate the soc ial space in which she existed and thus affirm bohemias masculine essence. Wilson argues that the bohemian identity as constructed in M ontmartre thus not only needed to 120Armond Fields, Le Chat Noir: A Mo ntmartre Cabaret and Its Artists in Turnof the Century Paris, (Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1993), 12.
Chapter Three 89 protect its conception of masculinity from competing forms, but also subdue its vulne rability to the threat of women who assumed the masculine prerogative of cultural production and creativity in cabaret life.121 Necessarily, bohemian men felt compelled to formulate a feminine ideal in the Montmartroise that not asserted bohemian identity by subverting bourgeois norms, but also effectively protected bohemian conceptions of masculinity from its vulnerabilities: the threat of female sexuality. Indeed, the formulation of the Montmartroise was a group effort and ultimately the product of an exclusively male collective consciousness that sought to marginalize women from bohemian artistic production. One notably popular medium through which that male imagination actualized the Montmartroise as a trope in the cabaret visual culture was a hybrid publication, a social geography of public female Parisian archetypes These pseudoethnographies of Parisian women were particular ly salient sources for visualizing not only the female types throughout Paris that ostensibly compromised public moral virtue, but also the unique character of Montmartres own deviant femininity. Largely eschewed by historians for their seemingly lewd and irreverent content, these social geographies hold significant value in the analysis of gendering social space in the Montmartre bohemian community. Indeed, prominent cabaret personalities Henry Somm, Andr Gill, Emile Goudeau, and Adolphe Willette all published their own respective pseudoethnographic ge ographies of Parisian women with the self stated intent to establish the unique and morally ambiguous yet wholly sexual and deviant nature of the bohemian Montmartre woman. These collections are however cr ucial to under standing how bohemian men gendered certain components of bohemian life as 121 Michael Wilson, Capped in Hope, 204.
Chapter Three 90 feminine or masculine to the end of maintaining a gendered hierarchy: they consistently assert bohemian artistry to be a masculine domain and marginalize the feminine a ccording its potential to stifle bohemian creativity through sexual allure Such dynamics of gender relations also then proposed artistic production and the visual classification of bohemian women according to their sexuality as a means of asserting mascul ine domination over the destabilizing forces that women presented to the bohemian community. Elizabeth Menon remains an exception among scholars in the field, having extensively interrogated one of these ethnographies for their value in mediating gender norms in the bohemian cultural sphere. Her examination of Georges Montorgueils La Parisienne peinte par elle meme in her study Images of Pleasure and Vice effectively situates the image of Montmartroise female types in the discursive context of Wilsons arg uments on female transgression. She constructs a moral dichotomy through which images of the Montmartroise conveyed a dual meaning that situated them concurrently as objects of male sexual fantasy and dangers to bohemian virility vis vis their natural wo manhood.122 Her discussion of one particular type proposed by Montorgueil to be a feminine deviant endemic to Montmartre, La Perverse serves this project well in establishing a series of visual tropes that illustrate d how bohemian men construc ted the Montma rtroise as a simultaneous threat and object of desire that relied on religion as an organ for articulating the virtuous and immoral facets of bohemian femininity. Menon claims that Montorgueils description of La Perverse as a perverted Eve and subsequent description of her as an agent of Satan indicated a broader discursive 122 Elizabeth K. Menon, Images of Pleasure and Vice: Women of the Fringe, in Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture 3740.
Chapter Three 91 trend where Eve served to objectify and negotiate competing ideals for acceptable feminine sociability. She notes that contemporary uses of Eve in popular visual culture ofte n symbolized struggles between feminist interpretations of the ideal woman as an alma mater and as the origine du monde (as per Courbet) and traditionalist conservative preoccupations with her original sin and fall from grace.123 Thus the visual comparisons of the Montmartroise with Eve manipulated that dialectic of virtue and vice, and Montorgueils representation of La Perverse serves a similar function in imaging a variation of a bohemian feminine type. On one hand, his attention to the Montmartroises ph ysical beauty legitimated her use in the bohemian collective imagination as an object of male sexual fantasy, yet that overt sexuality enabled her to expose and manipulate the vulnerability of mens desires, rendering her sexual power a threat to bohemian Montmartres very identity and existence. Menon notes that other sexualized renderings of Eves act of original sin that connote her image as a sexual threat to men manipulate the narrative of her temptation in Eden, particularly her interactions wi th the serpent. For example, the cover illustration for Josephin P ladans book Femmes honn tes visualizes honest women in a rather vulgar context: the ideal bohemian woman here is depicted yet again as a fille dEve : scantily clad, or en deshabill e and rather than acquiescing to the serpent, she rides it wildly.124 (See Figure 3.2) The un addressed sexual implications of this text are plainly apparent, as the serpent is a transparent symbol for the bohemian phallus, and the nude bohemian woman here transgresses feminine propriety through her conquest of the male sex. Menon further notes that the image at hand conflates Eve, the femme fatale, the 123 Ibid. 58 65. 124 Ibid., 5961.
Chapter Three 92 Montmartroise, and male desire and entitlement to female sexuality in one narrative.125 Such religious imagery is further seen to characterize bohemian commentaries on the sexuality of gender relations in the bohemian cabaret imagination. Bohemian artist and habitu of both the Chat Noir and QuatzArts cabarets Adolphe Willette similarly ascribed bohemian feminin e sexuality overtly religious visual characteristics in order to emphasize the Montmartroises sexual power over men and the resultant cultural threat that posed In his collection Oeuvres Choisies a sample of images he produced for numerous Montmartois m edia outlets and publications, Willettes project is remarkably similar in form and content to Montorgueil s, attempting to ascribe bohemian femininity an ambiguous morality that emphasizes her sexual deviance and undermining of male authority. Nowhere is such a trend more evident than in Willettes representation of one particular bohemian archetype he names la Sainte Democratie.126 (See Figure 3.3 ) Willettes allegorical representation of the bohemian woman as Sainte Democratie is nothing short of a loaded image, drawing on a number of historical and religious images to legitimate her bohemian identity as well as her sexual power and real threat to men who succumb to their sexual temptations. Bearing a broader commentary on the political discourse surrounding the transformation of gender roles in the public sphere of fin de sicle Paris, la Sainte Democratie exploits the tropes I have already noted in a methodical way that appropriates the narrative and image of the French Revolut ion as a means to communicate both her bohemianness as well as the cultural 125 Ibid. 126 See Adolphe Willette, uvres Choisies : choisies dans le Courrier Franais, 18941901, (Paris: H. Simonis Empis, 1901), 38.
Chapter Three 93 threat she poses. Completely nude, Saint Democracy stands leaning against a guillotine scaffold wearing the red cap of the Sans Culottes identified by the drawings caption as w aiting for [my] lovers.127 The red cap and guillotine, as symbols of the French Revolution, ostens ibly signify her popular and thus bohemian origins Yet her nude body, in tandem with the guillotine, posture her in a more menacing and subversive visual cont ext where her sexual temptation affects emasculation on those men most vulnerable to her allure .128 The cultural implications of such an image are rather clear: the meaning conveyed not only emphasizes bohemian male fascinations with female sexuality but als o understand it as a subversive threat to their hierarchy, as the sexual power women possess fundamentally undermines the established normative gender hierarchy that privileged masculine domains in bohemian culture. The se two representations of the Montmartroise thus demonstrate a component of a broader perspective on gender relations that existed in the bohemian cultural imagination: that womanhood, regardless of its cultural connotations with modernity or traditionalism or class identifiers of bour geois or bohemian origins, posed a real sexual threat to bohemian masculinity that needed to be subdued. Paradoxically enough, that threat was also a source for the bohemian womans sexual allure: the Montmartroise was dangerous because she was attractive, and she was attractive because she was dangerous. Such a tautological understanding of femininity as an inherent menace to bohemian identity, contingent upon artistic and cultural production, provided the male circles of the Montmartre cabarets a pretense that legitimated the exclusion of w omen from bohemian artistic life. Furthermore, bohemias collective relegation of women to purely passive 127 Ibid. 128 Ibid.
Chapter Three 94 roles as visual objects of male desire and signifiers of pleasure opened a discursive avenue through which bohemia n men could negotiate masculinity: the bohemians sexual conquest of subversive forms of femininity. Chat Noir an d QuatzArts chansonnier Aristide Bruant explicitly addresses that male desire and need to contain female sexuality in his collection of cabar et songs Dans la rue The volumes project remains similar in scope and aim to Montorgueil and Willettes respective works: Dans la rue attempts to map Parisian social space by examining different bohemian types, and Bruant thus genders different spaces ac cording to the archetypes he situates there. His treatment of femininity, particularly with regard to women he considers bohemian, reproduces many of the same tropes and assumptions of normative gender roles put forth by Montorgueil and Willette. Women rem ain an integral part of the urban social landscape, however only as objects of Bruants gaze and sexual fantasy. Bruants analysis of gender relations in Montmartre, addressed in the two songs A Batignolles and A Montmertre employs the schema of a male need to dominate the threat of female sexuality as expressed in broader conversations on the masculinization of bohemian Montmartre culture.129 The two songs together thus gender two different aspects of bohemian life in an attempt to codify normative expectat ions of bohemian men and women. The bohemian space that emerges as a result of Bruants narratives explicitly codes Montmartre bohemian culture as masculine and feminizes the forces that threaten it. Bruants representation of a typical Montmartroise as posing a deviant yet alluring sexual threat to the bohemian man is readily apparent in his chanson A 129 Aristide Bruant, Dans la rue : chansons et monologues (Paris : Aristide Bruant, 1921), 17 24 and 167174.
Chapter Three 95 Batignolles. Batignolles, a quarter on Montmartres western periphery, is understood here to be a culturally bohemian domain, though one that undermines bohemian masculinity. In the song, Batignolles is personified by an anonymous woman, whose work as a chanteuse and pursuit of sex ual pleasure affirm her bohemian identity and belie her petit bourgeois origin. The first few verses of the song establish several salient details about her status as a bohemian woman: she is physically attractive, of modest yet educated familial backgroun d, and lacks any identity beyond her outward aesthetic appeal.130 The lyrical narrative continues to reveal more crucial details about her relation to the ostensibly ma le narrator: they seemingly fell in love at some point yet presently she hinders his cre ativity by not making ends meet adequately and drinking too much. The liability she poses to him continues to mount once the narrator finds out that she is cheating on him with a rat named Anatole, despite the narrator loving her as much as he could.131 Ultimately, the story culminates in a fate of vengeance, with the narrators virtue as a bohemian man triumphing over the womans sexual transgressions and deceit, as she eventually dies of smallpox, providing him both closure and contentment with his iden tity. The lyrics conclude with Bruants moral ultimatum for negotiating appropriate gender norms in bohemian space, proclaiming that the overarching moral of the story is that little girls who dont know their daddies shouldnt go to school, thereby fram ing bohemian women as illegitimate, having subscribed to the republican and therefore, 130 Ibid 131 Translated from the original French, Je lai aime autant que jai pu/ Mais j ai pus pu lorsque jai su/ Qua mtrompait, avec Anatole/ A Batignolles. See Ibid ., 20.
Chapter Three 96 bourgeois, prerogative of a public education, and furthermore as of illegitimate birth according to bourgeois standards of normative family structures .132 The prescriptive tone of the songs lyrical content provides enough detail to discern the sociocultural implications of how Bruant addresses ideals of what men consider permissible feminine norms in bohemian culture. Bruants Montmartroise here lacks all agency as a crea tive actor in the public sphere, aligned to Wilsons argument concerning the masculinization of transgressive creativity in bohemian social space.133 The Montmartroise is of illegitimate birth and even more so, violates feminine norm by attending school, effectively depriving herself of her identity as a woman by entering into the ostensibly male province of education, another aspect of the masculine public sphere. Furthermore, she remains a sexually manipulative burden on the bohemian male psyche and perpetuates the duality of outwardly expressed virtue and sexual vice that Menon established as an influence that bohemian men felt compelled to regulate.134 Given such destabilizing inclinations, the bohemian woman warranted, in the collective imagination of bohemian men, measures of exacting social and sexual control. The masculinization of Montmartre space then fulfilled that aim and functioned to marginal ize women as object s of visual and sexual pleasure, excluding them from the male domains of creation and c ultu ral production in bohemian life, which is to say, art. Bruants lyrical counterpoint to the spatially feminine bohemianism occurring in A Batignolles emerges in A Montmertre which explicitly typifies Montmartre bohemianism as being gendered male. Whe reas A Batignolles vilifies the bohemian 132 Rendered in the original text as: La moral de cette oraisonl, / Cest qules ptits fills qua pas dpapa/ Doivnt jamais aller lcole/ A Batignolles See Ibid., 21. 133 Michael Wilson, Sans les femmes quest ce qui nous resterait?, 196. 134 See Elizabeth Menon, Images of Pleasure and Vice, 67.
Chapter Three 97 woman for repressin g bohemian masculinity by inhibiting male creativity, A Montmertre aims to wholly construct Montmartre as a masculine space by positioning it as an artist whose identity and loyalties lie not with in the self, but in the Montmartre community. Thus the chanson effectively becomes an ode to the neighborhood, but displays some usefulness for interpreting gender negotiations in the Montmartre bohemian culture. Bruant almost immediately identifies the ar chetypical bohemian artist as a man being of Montmartre, the last son of a Poirier from the rue Berthe whose unambiguously deprived family has inhabited Montmartre since the most ancient of times, gendering the bohemian artist as a specifically masculi ne type in bohemian popular culture.135 These verses as well as those that follow conflate bohemia with the ambiguously nostalgic image of an old Montmartre, but furthermore valorize both the subjects steadfast fidelity to the neighborhood. Bruant avows t he bohemians loyalty to Montmartre despite both the hardships hes endured there and the buttes transforming cultural and political character. On one hand, the artist has lost both of his parents at an early age t o the city streets, and into adulthood hi s living conditions remain deprived, not being able to afford bread or shelter.136 On the other, Montmartres identity, character, and physical landscape undergo rapid and significant change with the construction of the 135 Trans lated from the French : le dernier fils dun Poirier, Dla ru Berthe/ Depuis les temps les plus anciens, Nous habitons, moi z et les miens, A Montmertre. The appellation Poirier retains some semantic ambiguity: literally meaning pear tree, the Poirier also has cultural connotat ions specific to Montmartres once famous and now defunct Pear Tree Hotel in the Abbesses district. In all likelihood, Bruants reference points to the narrator belonging to a family that had run the Hotel du Poirier, rooting him well within the establishe d Montmartre community. See Bruant, Dans la rue 168. 136 Ibid., 169. The glorification of hunger and hardship as an attestation of masculinity is a common motif throughout bohemian literature produced in fin de sicle Montmartre, beyond Bruants oeuvre. The collective term for hunger as part of the bohemian lifestyle and experience arises as eating la vache enrage or mad cow. Indeed, many bohemian celebrations affiliated with the cabarets Chat Noir and QuatzArts, including a two day parade and festival employed la vache enrage as a theme, summarily understood as a religious satire, a fumistic calque of le veau dor or golden calf, almost always in reference to the Sacr Coeur basilica. For further reading on the subject, see Emile Goudeau, La Vache enrage, (Paris: Paul Ollendorf, 1885), and Venita Datta, A Bohemian Festival: La Fte de la Vache Enrage, in Journal of Contemporary History 28, no. 2, (Apr. 1993): 195213.
Chapter Three 98 SacreCoeur, alienating its longstanding bohemian tradition.137 Despite such setbacks, however, Bruants avatar here for the ideal Montmartre bohemian elects to stay in Montmartre, eventually conceding his worldly possessions to marry it, free of any legal witness or recognition, imply ing his acquiescence of self for Montmartres communal good.138 Thus, Bruant ultimately recognizes the bohemian not as a constituent part of Montmartre but rather the bohemian artist fundamentally and essentially accounts for the quarters collective identi ty. According to Bruant, the two are inseparable: the bohemian is Montmartre, and Montmartre is bohemian. A Montmertre thus provides a profound insight into what cabaret culture conceived as bohemian space and the mentality it entailed. The chanson establ ishes bohemian artistry and the culturally marginal lifestyle it entailed as a province of masculinity, and therefore necessarily excludes the feminine from its essence. Given that Bruant spatially and corporeally conflates the bohemian condition with Mont martre itself, his words gender the collective identity of the quarter and the institutions that comprise it as masculine as well. III The Bohemian Ideal as the Bourgeois Norm The aforementioned texts, visual or written, jointly reflect the complexity of the images and narratives that characterized bohemian Montmartres engagement with gender as part of its communal identity, yet ultimately reveal a simpler, unarticulated structural assumption that mediated bohemian gender relations. The conditions which rendered the Montmartroise a subversive image in opposition to the femme nouvelle in 137 Ibid. 138 Ibid.
Chapter Three 99 the Parisian public psyche also rendered her a sociocultural other in the bohemian mind. The very fact that the creation of a visual type to articulate a common bohemian i deal woman was an exclusively male endeavor is suggestive enough of that development. Yet the complex and multiple visual meanings conveyed by the pervasive image of the Montmartroise denote the rigid masculinization of bohemian identity and the necessary rejection of competing gender and sexual identities as well as male bohemians concurrent need of women to continuously assert their masculinity. Thus, women served manifold functions crucial to the perpetuation of bohemian identity in the cabaret world. The Montmartroise on one hand differentiated bohemian identity from traditional Parisian norms of feminine acceptability. In contrast to the ostensibly bourgeois femme nouvelle the Montmartroise embraced an overt sexuality to a more carnal end of pleasure. Like the femme nouvelle, she transgressed traditional barriers governing gender roles by engaging and provoking the public sphere, becoming an integral part of the public consciousness and reproduced in the visual commodity culture of her time. In this w ay, both cultural types engendered a perceived sexual threat among her audience for the subversive implications of their self awareness. The Montmartroise, however, exaggerated such subversive acts by attempting to betray masculine desires and access the b ohemian male prerogative of artistic production. In presenting such a threat to bohemian masculinity, the visual implications of the Montmartroises manipulation of outward dualities of virtue and vice provided the cabaret community a basis for the gende red social stratification of bohemian space, affirming a social politic where men used images of women as objects of their desires to legitimate their sexual legitimacy as males. As a result there existed a continual need to
Chapter Three 100 reproduce images of woman in order to rearti culate masculine power. Consequently, women remained socially and culturally subordinate to masculine fantasy. The hierarchical model of gender sociability that emerges from this stratified mode of negotiating relations between bohemian men and women is peculiarly similar to contemporary patterns of bourgeois gender relations. As Michael Wilson observes, both bohemian and bourgeois social spheres assumed femininity to be culturally, physically, and socially dependent upon male needs.139 Consequently both bohemian and bourgeois social space sought to deprive women of any agency as public actors, be it articulated, claimed, or not. Yet Wilsons discussion of the class implications of bohemian standards of gender sociability stops short in this re gard. It is necessary to interrogate that claim further to understand the historical significance of such a complex social narrative that bohemian Montmartre furnished in the sphere of cultural production. Accordingly, I maintain that bohemian protocols for normative gender roles and prerogatives express iro nically enough, bourgeois cultural normativity. I V. Representations of Bohemian Femininity in the Works of Marie Krysinska Historians have largely eclipsed women from conversations concerning bohemian artistic production in Montmartre, under the assumption that their marginal and subordinate status in a fundamentally masculine space afforded them no agency as actors in the cabaret s physical space and culture. Mary Louise Roberts argues, for example, t hat female attempts to be taken seriously as artists, scholars, or otherwise agents in the male domain of the public sphere never amounted to anything beyond momentary 139 Wilson, Sans les femmes quest ce qui nous resterait ?, 215217.
Chapter Three 101 scandal, or disruptive acts.140 Her claim here is indicative of a broader trend. Scholars rely on the notion that women existed only as visual objects of male fascination, relegated to passive roles rather than having access any mode for active participation in bohemian life. In addressing womens presence in cabaret lif e in Montmartre, only a singular exception to the enforced codes of male homogeneity in the poet Marie Krysinska, is ever acknowledged. When scholars do mention Krysinskas presence in the Chat Noir, for example they note external attempts to defeminize h er and her work.141 Indeed, Krysinska is a notable exception to the bohemian cabarets maleonly social codes: she was the only woman to be recognized by the cabaret world to be an artistic equal and contributor, a habitue of the Hydropathes literary circle and the cabarets Chat Noir and QuatzArts.142 S he was furthermore the only woman to be published multiple times in the two cabarets circulated journals and remained acknowledged as such throughout her time spent in the cabaret sphere.143 Yet scholarly conver sations stop here, and fail to elicit further attention to Krysinskas evidently exceptional role in bohemian Montmartre, or examine her work as revealing of gender relations there. Such omissions in the historiography of gender in bohemian Montmartre are somewhat confounding, as Krysinskas published oeuvre remains very telling of the political dynamics and challenges presented to women in the cabaret. Indeed, Krysinska did transgress the established barrier between visual and spatial domains that were con structed to marginalized women. However, her written work utilizes the pervasive 140 For more information regarding such an argument, see Mary Louise Roberts, Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Finde Sicle France, (Chicago and London : Universit y of Chicago Press, 2002), 118. 141 Wilson, Capped with Hope, 204. 142 Olga Anne Dull, From Rabelais to the Avant Garde 228. 143 See Elizabeth K. Menon, Evil By Design for further detail on the cultural uses of Eve in Parisian visual culture and her discursive connotations specific to mediating womens roles in public space according to dominant modes of thought in the public imagination.
Chapter Three 102 images of the Montmartroise as tropes for her own work, but to very different ends. Krysinskas poetry and depictions of women in it ultimately constitute a feminine appropria tion of the bohemian female types to craft narrative and artistic agency on beha lf o f the poet and the women she portrays. Krysinskas poetry heavily engages the discourse of the sexualized filles dEve and accordingly affects Elizabeth Menons arguments on the semantic implications of the biblical womans image as moral ambiguity in interesting ways. Overall, Krysinskas representations of feminine sexuality thus constitutes a cultural subversion of cabaret gender norms, as her treatment of sexuality as it pertains to female morality affords the objectified bohemian woman emotional, sexual, and physical agency completely independent of male influence. In turn, I maintain that Krysinska doesnt necessarily exemplify the exception that proves the unspoken bohemian rule of feminine exclusion as scholars have generally upheld, but actually demonstrates a certain centrality and influence women held within bohemi an artistic life. Furthermore, Krysinskas work illustrates the extents to which women existed within cabaret social space as crucial (artistic) actors and not necessarily only as visual objects reified for male spectatorship. Nowhere in the entirety of Marie Krysinskas oeuvre is this discursive subversion of bohemi an gender ideals so salient as in the third section of her 1890 Rythmes pittoreques, titled Femmes. Focusing on the five mythological women Eve, Helen of Troy, Ariadne, the Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene, the poems in Femmes bear semantic and cultural s ignificance by isolating each female subject from their traditional associations within their respective narratives as dependents of male needs or desires. Each of the poem s forms reinforces that notion of female independence by emphasizing
Chapter Three 103 their female s ubjects emotional self fulfillment until their last stanzas, where their interactions with men ultimately yield significant consequences for both humankind and the womens sense of agency.144 Such representations of women challenge established nominally bohemian conceptions of womens social roles as objects of desire by defining their poetic characters as evidently aligned to moral virtue as well as sexually, emotionally, and physically independent of men. The poem Eve, for example, reproduces the image o f her as the manifestation of ideal feminine beauty, yet independent of the narrative male gaze. Neither Adam nor God is expressly mentioned in the poem. Instead Krysinska frames Eves beauty in relation to her environment, Eden, gendered in the poem as the feminine Joie.145 Throughout the text, the sexual implications of Eves nude body are thus constructed according to semantically virtuous states of being and symbols in Eden that are additionally, in French, gendered feminine: her morality is qualified b y images of a doe, roses, joy, marvelous graces, and compared to the beauty of the rainbow, personified in the text by Iris.146 Given the formal and semantic significance of grammatical gender in the poem, it is then significant that the representation of her temptation by the serpent is characterized by masculine language. Indeed, the serpent itself bears obvious masculine connot ation s beyond its grammatical gender. Yet when confronted by the serpent, Eves womanhood and human agency as such is reduced to her beautiful nude flanks as the source of her temptation. Krysinskas use of the masculine beaux flancs nus to signify 144 See Marie Krysinska, R ythmes pittoresques : mirages, symboles, femmes, contes, resurrections, (Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, 1890), 5364. 145 Ibid. 53. 146 Ibid. 54.
Chapter Three 104 Eve s entire person here is of careful design in terms of both form and meaning.147 The introduction of masculine language as formally concomitant to Eves original sin implicitly attributes her lapse in moral integrity, and thus her weakness, to a masculinege ndered component of her identity as a woman. Ultimately, the poem conveys the notion that that masculine adulteration of the feminine ideal catalyzed Eves fall from grace, as it was her beaux flancs nus, and not her femininity, that remained ignorant of their prodigious destinies .148 This ostensibly feminist reinterpretation of mythical narratives of women as independent of male desire and ultimately, their shortcomings, and disgraces being of male intervention and design characterizes the semantic and formal composition of Krysinskas other works under the Femmes heading in Rythmes pittoresques. Throughout her examinations of Ariadne, Helen, and Mary, Krysinska equates feminine sexuality, purity, and virtue with their spatial and emotional detachment from male desires, needs, or intrusions. The introduction of masculine characters, language, or characteristics into the texts consistently threatens the female subjects independence and ultimately, their happiness, framing the ideas of seduction and temptation as masculine, not feminine vices. Krysinska reinterprets the myth of Ariadne s marriage to Dionysius, for example, as a perpetuation of Theseuss betrayal. Krysinskas narrative as such inverts normative bohemian gender norms, as Ariadne, while rema ining an object of male sexual desire, assumes the culturally active role as being seduced by Dionysuss vaguely threatening allure, and his seduction being the only grounds for Ariadne entering a 147 Ibid. 148 Ibid. 54 55.
Chapter Three 105 marriage of immortal love.149 Krysinska thus masculinizes the morally dubious act of sexual temptation. Similarly, Dionysus virtue in the poem is derived from his outwardly feminine sexuality, claiming his androgynous nature is attesting of his animal divinity.150 The historical implications of Krysinskas poetry and her treatment of gender here are crucial to my larger project of rethinking bohemian identity. In the established context of the bohemian Montmartres discursive engagement with gender and the visual culture it developed to render women sexual threats in masculine space, Krysinskas work in Femmes thus shoulders considerable cultural significance in negotiating bohemian notions of what social domains are coded feminine and masculine. Indeed, her poetry substantively inverts the gender roles dominant in the bohemian (which is to say masculine) visual imagination, to an end that affords women some narrative and visual agency as topical subjects for bohemian pleasure and discourse. Thus, Krysinska engages the intellectual institutions of bohemian identity in subversive ways. Within the structure of Elizabeth Menons argument on the cultural uses of feminine sexuality to convey moral alignment and inte nt, Krysinskas work is problematic as it manipulates moral assumptions of feminine sexuality to venerate and not vilify the perceived beauty and purity of the female form. As such, Krysinskas depicted interpretation of the ideal bohemian woman remains passive insofar as she is acted upon by male desires, but her virtue is not contingent upon her acquiescence to (or resistance of) them. The resultant feminization of bohemian values in Krysinskas work thus warrants further attention for 149 Ibid. 58. 150 Ibid.
Chapter Three 106 the more complete understanding of how bohemian Montmartre cultural institutions negotiated gender. It is worth consi dering, given the subversive content of Krysinskas engagement with popular tropes for visualizing bohemian identity and the ways in which they undermine bohemias collective culture as a masculine domain, how Krysinska retained her status within the Chat Noir and other Montmartre cabarets as a habitue and an artistic equal to her male counterparts if her interpretations of gender deviated from the fundamental assumpti ons of bohemian identity there. The foreword to Rythmes pittoresques maintains that despite her recognition and exceptionality as Montmartres singular female contributor of equal artistic merit to bohemian men, there remained considera ble hostility to her femininity to the extent that the male cabaret elite attempted to silence her artistic voice .151 The foreword cites a contemporary review of a reading Krysinska performed at the Chat Noir in April of 1890, claiming that there was a deliberate collective atte mpt among the protesting confr res and propagators of symbolism in 1885, little betray al of [their intent] to never pronounce the name of Marie Krysinska when reading the names of those belonging to their initial group .152 Thus, cabaret culture did indeed attempt to marginalize Krysinskas work on the grounds that she transgressed gender divides into the masculine domain of literary production. The media in which her works appear attest to her marginal social position in the cabaret stratum. To reiterate Michael Wilsons point, Krysinska was indeed the most pr olifically p ublished female bohemian artist, appearing in the Chat Noirs circulated magazine seventeen times throughout the course of the publications existence. Yet it is 151 Ibid., vi. 152 Ibid.
Chapter Three 107 noteworthy that none of her work published in the magazine addresses the inversion of obfuscation of established ideals for bohemian gender norms.153 Such a discursive aberration was ultimately omitted from Montmartres institutional memory and as such maintained its masculine dominance. Instead, Krysinskas reinterpretations of gender and feminist representations of deviant female sexuality remain obscured due to their tangential position in cabaret life, only appearing in her published volumes independent of affiliation with the Montmartre cabarets.154 Yet I do not understand these collec tive attempts at marginalizing Krysinska as a disruptive exception that proves the rule of feminine marginality within bohemia, but rather in terms of female reclamations of artistic power that prove womens implicit centrality within cabaret life Krysins kas centrali ty deviates from the norm and ultimately demonstrates womens roles inside the cabaret beyond visual representation, performance, or existing to be looked at for mal e pleasure. Rather, Krysinska, while indeed a notable exception that realized feminine agency as an artistic equal in a social space coded masculine and patriarchal in its orderin g of gender sociability, did prove female artistic influence in bohemia beyond the spectacle of their bodies. While cases of feminine artistic participatio n in bohemian life in Montmartre beyond Krysinska are few and far between (Sarah Bernhardt and Suzanne Valadons artistic contributions also demonstrate similar modes of reclaiming female agency while resisting external attempts 153 Michael Wilson notes that Krysinska was a comparatively infrequent contributor to the Journal du Chat Noir alongside other male habitus, only appearing seventeen times in the trajectory of the publications existence, a roughly eight year period. Furthermore, her works that did appear did not address the ambiguity of gender presentation or depict women at all. See Michael Wilson, Sans les femmes quest ce qui nous resterait?, 218, n. 16. 154 See Rythmes pittoresques and Marie Krysinska, Joies errantes:nouveaux rythmes pittoresques, (Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, 1894), 3564 for Krysinskas examination of feminine gender norms in the context of bohemian Montmartres established visual culture surrounding representations of women. Such works we re never featured in the Journal du Chat Noir.
Chapter Three 108 to masculinize the artist a nd the art) her work and the regularity in which it manifested in the cabarets collective imagination is a salient example of female empowerment that didnt necessarily reinforce the rule of feminine relegation to passive social roles in Montmartre publi c life. It seems rather odd to me that historical inquiries into the gender politics that defined Montmartre bohemian culture at the fin de sicle have failed to adequately address Krysinskas role in producing images of women and using them to specific ends in the context of contemporary cultural discourse. Yet there remain several key problems that Krysinska introduces within the established scholarly discussion of what constituted bohemian culture within these Montmartre institutions. Wilson and Menons overall arguments on the matter have relied on the assumption that a bohemian space coded as culturally masculine necessarily deprived women of agency as constituent parts of the Montmartre bohemian community, which is to say, as artists.155 Krysinska remain s the exception to that rule, and a critical reading of her work reveals a mode of discourse that both upholds and defies bohemian gender norms by employing and deconstructing the popular tropes used to situate men and women in bohemian situational context s. Krysinska thus engages gender in such a way that reveals the structural similarities and contradictions of bohemian identity and above all connects the bohemian mentality to the dominant discourse of the Parisian bourgeoisie. Yet Menon and Wilson both m aintain the fundamental distinction between the Parisian bourgeois and the Montmartre bohemian identities for the semantic implications of their respective male dominant cultures, claiming a subversive intention in bohemian culture that meant to satirize, not emulate, 155 Michael Wilson, Capped in Hope, 204 205, and Elizabeth Menon, Images of Pleasure and Vice, 67.
Chapter Three 109 bourgeois gender norms, an attitude historically identified by its contemporary signifier, fumisterie.156 As I have hopefully clarified here, the sociocultural implications of that subversive, if ostensibly satirical intent, remain a pretense a nd artifice through which Montmartres cabarets commodified the notion of a bohemian identity endemic to the neighborhood. Ultimately, the manner in which Montmartre engaged Parisian discourses of gender and constructed its identity through the visual mani pulation of feminine types corroborate a set of unarticulated cultural values that adapted and reproduced contemporary bourgeois mores. Structurally, bohemian Montmartre cabarets reproduced bourgeois gender hierarchies that maintained male dominance and feminine sexual, physical, and emotional dependence on male needs and desires, and the gendering of social space according to what roles men and women were expected to fulfill upheld such notions. V. Reconsiderations Beyond the ordering of bohemian social space along demarcations of gender, the assumption that bohemias fundamental purpose to produce its identity through art emerged as a masculine gendered province of bohemian life, eclipsing women from cultural relevance. Marie Krysinskas position in cabaret life as a female poet and acknowledged artistic equal to her male cohorts, however, problematizes that assumption. Furthermore, her depictions of women and engagement with bohemias visual culture of gender normat ivity deviate from more popular, male fashioned representations of women and cultural perspectives towards what the ideal bohemian woman should act or look 156 Michael Wilson, Sans les femmes quest ce qui nous resterait?, 215217.
Chapter Three 110 like I nstead Krysinskas work actually grant ed the agency to the idealized bohemian woman because of her sexual autonomy, independent of male intervention and furthermore, proved womens influential role s in the bohemian sphere of cultural production, culturally coded as an exclusively male domain. The implications of Krysinskas legacy defied expectations to fulfill socially passive roles as visual objects and sexually transgressive temptations of a male audiences desires and rather cemented womens roles, however infrequently they appear in the narrative, as crucial actors in bohemian life Sc holar ship in the field has somehow managed to suppress that evidence for the historiographical and methodological problems it presents t o a well established discussion in which women historically have no claim to bohemian identity: as Michael Wilson expressly c laims, Women are a part of bohemian lifeindeed crucial to its daily survival yet are not considered themselves bohemians. Instead, in a clearly gendered division of labor, men are artists and women provide for artists needs.157 Marie Krysinskas exceptio nality to such a strong assertion not only provides Montmartre bohemianisms collective culture a feminine component and presence, the historical obfuscation of her identity and relevance to the production and interpretation of the bohemian female image signifies a broader problem beyond scholarly method. Rather, the suppression of Krysinskas historicity is a problem of perspective and power in the production of history. I would like to reconsider my arguments on gender relations in bohemian Montmartre the n, in the discursive context of powers role in history. Historian and 157 Michael Wilson, Sans les femmes que st ce qui nous resterait?, 196.
Chapter Three 111 anthropologist Michel Rolph Trouillot avows that at a rudimentary level, the production of historical narratives involves the uneven contribution of competing groups and individuals who have unequal access to the means for such production.158 In agreement with that claim, I position the collective construction of a bohemian feminine ideal and her discursive uses to discer n bohemian identity as distinct from its environs as an exercise in such a dynamic of power relations. The construction of the Montmartroise was not a unilateral negotiation in terms of defining womanhood against a popular cultural conception of what feminine roles ought to look like, but the Montmartroise needed to addit ionally challenge emergent ideations of women as avatars of cultural modernity. She necessarily needed to differentiate bohemian feminine identity from dominant views of the bourgeois public woman, the femme nouvelle, and the traditional domesticity that d efined popular perceptions of normative female roles. T he cultural imagination of the Montmartroise as a bohemian ideal and marker of identity is complicated however, by the homogenously masculine social space that created her image. In this way, the Montmartroises uses in codifying normative bohemian gender roles engages Trouillots power dynamics, as the Montmartroise also delineates a hierarchical relationship between men and women in bohemian culture that preserves the cultural norms of bourgeois gender relations where men are dominant and women dependent on male needs, desires, and pleasures. Historical approaches to such a complex cu ltural relationship have erred in rendering the assumption that such a hierarchically gendered mode of crafting boh emian identity in Montmartre relegated women to a rigidly defined role as dependent objects of bohemian male pursuits and in 158 Michel Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995), xix.
Chapter Three 112 turn deprived women of agency as contributors to Montmartre cultural production. Marie Krysinskas work and role in Montmartres ca barets signal a rather meaningful departure from that established assumption, yet the production of historical narratives on bohemian Montmartre and cabaret life eclipses her from memory. Krysinskas poetry ultimately subverts bohemian ideals for gender re lations by utilizing the tropes of the Montmartroise employed to masculinize bohemian space and instead renders them feminine, giving agency to female sexuality in such a way that elides male influence and intervention. The implications of this dynamic are rather evident at semantic, ideological, and methodological strata. Bohemian Montmartre, as expressed through its cabarets and the visual culture that emerged from them, did negotiate gender and codify sociality in similar terms to the Parisian bourgeoisie, despite a professed ideological opposition to and contempt for bourgeois culture. However crudely masculinized and misogynist that emergent culture was, there nevertheless remained a crucially feminine component to bohemian identity in the Montmartre ca baret, and Marie Krysinska undoubtedly verifies the extent to which women proved relevant actors in Montmar tre cultural production, both not solely as objects of visual pleasure and male spectatorship, but also as artists. Yet the production of a historica l narrative that perpetuates established assumptions of gender in fin de sicle Montmartre and preserves the integrity of historical inquiries into that specific moment has hitherto omitted such trends from historical knowledge as it undermines the existin g relevant historiography and the methods tha t have produced it. Ironically enough, that power dynamic suppresses feminine voices and agency within the cabaret culture of fin de sicle Montmartre, and ultimately emulates the modes by which
Chapter Three 113 Montmartre legitimated its bohemian identity and obscured its cultural intersections with and origins in the bourgeoisie, the sect of Parisian society it nominally sought to disrupt.
Conclusion 114 To conclude this study I would like to revisit the contemporary historiographical claims regarding bohemianisms function and uses in finde sicle Parisian society. Indeed, the assertions I have made in these chapters have all been constructed specificall y in response to Jerrold Seigels arguments that Montmartre bohemianism at the fin de sicle, articulated through the medium of the cabaret, was a formative step in the process of reconciliation between the bourgeoisie and the unruly bohemian social types. Mary Gluck offer s a striking analysis of Seigels argument of reconciliation by placing it in the context of modernity, where the bohemian functioned as a liminal figure that acted out the inner contradictions of bourgeois individualism and helped reconcile modern societys opposing needs for social order and self expression.1 This thesis has examined those performative elements of cabaret life and culture, the means by which Montmartre constructed and presented its communal identity as the Parisian focal point of pleasur e and self expression, as a way to examine the tension between the two conditions that Mary Gluck posits as needs for a modern society. I understand Montmartre bohemianism at the fin de sicle, and the cabaret as the organ respo nsible for codifying and visualizing it, however, not as a formative process in the historical reconciliation with the bourgeois ie, but rather as a function of expanding the bourgeois domain into new milieus. I have utilized the framework of commercial capitalism a s a product of a common vision of modernity to negotiate relations between the two strata, as is manifested inside the cabaret cultural sphere, and therefore situate this argument not in the context of socioeconomic relations between the bourgeoisie and bohemia, but rather in terms of 1 Mary Gluck, Theorizing the Cultural Roots of the Bohemian Artist, 352.
Conclusion 115 power relations. The notion of the bourgeoisies reinvention and reification of bohemia in Montmartre through the cabaret, I maintain, blurred the demarcations between the bourgeois and bohemian cultural domains, however discursively reinforced their differences by positing the primary bourgeois cultural prerogative to be mass consumption, in contrast to the bohemian identity built around artistic production. I maintain that the cultivation of such opposing identities was itself of bourgeois design and allowed bohemianism as well as Montmartres communal identity and history, to develop as commodities to be traded and consumed via the spectacle of the cabaret among varied audiences and imaginations within the public sphere, noti ons of bohemias and Montmartres historically subversive traditions providing an artifice to obfuscate the commercial means of consumption the cabaret thoroughly upheld, thus affirming bourgeois power in bohemias primary cultural vehicle. Thus, my chapt ers and the conclusions they have drawn have all served the purpose of articulating the cultural contradictions that arose in the M ontmartre cabarets collective fabrication of bohemian identity, revealing those lapses where bohemia largely enacted and sus tained bourgeois norms and hegemony and thus reinforced bourgeois notions of moral order in the public sphere. The Parisian geography and the material spaces bohemia occupy, the appropriation of historical structures and narratives and need to constantly a rticulate the cabarets bohemian legitimacy, the inversion of normative social structures only to implicitly maintain, if not strengthen them, and the rejection of transforming modes of gender relations in modern society all point to bohemias reproduction of bourgeois cultural norms and social structures. As such, these chapters represent physical, discursive, ideological, and structural betrayals of their construed
Conclusion 116 pretense of bohemianism and serve to emphasize bourgeois normativity in cabaret life, its presence in Montmartre signifying the integration of a historically marginal and delinquent element of Parisian life into its own narrative of modernity. Understandings of such relat ions in the context of power seem paradoxical, simultaneously invisible yet explicit in practice, especially within the fin de sicle cabaret but are in fact mutually constitutive Indeed, the nominal purpose of bohemianism, as articulated within Montmartre, was to disrupt bourgeois ways of life and present them, either satir ically or hostilely, with alternate realities of urban modernity, and in turn, claiming a more authentically French historical tradition than the emergent influence of the Parisian elites. The appropriation of tools for commodity culture and mass consumpti on then, embodied in the cabaret as a space and organ for performing and engaging these defined and imagined conceptions of bohemianism, was not popularly construed as gentrification or indicative of bourgeois culture, but rather as engaging bourgeois cult ure on its own term s, and, in turn, placating or suppressing any moments where bohemian culture might reproduce bourgeois norms. However, as my second and third chapters demonstrate, the translation of such ideas into spectacles for public consumption ult imately trivialized any intentions to emphasize Montmartres subversive past, and undermined the significance of the cabaret as disruptive of bourgeois Parisian institutions. Consequently, cabaret life was ordered to reflect societal norms while aiming to suspend them. Its structures for negotiating Montmartres collective past and historical memory, as well as those regulations of gender relations in particular reflected bourgeois custom, wholly contradict the conceived notion of carnivalesque as a source of cultural legitimacy in the public mind and omitting
Conclusion 117 women from the narrative of artistic production and participation as actors in bohemian life, instead fulfilling entirely representational roles, respectively. These moments, however ephemeral or fix ed they are, attest to Montmartres role in negotiating the invented culture of finde sicle bohemianism and produce temporally visible evidence in support of this thesis, as does the temporality of the cabarets existence in fin de sicle society. The fl eeting success of the cabarets themselves branded as organs of bohemian identity in Montmartre, and the eventual retirement of nearly all prominent bohemian cabaretiers from public life signifies bohemias role as a momentary, spectacular pleasure in the P arisian public mind at the end of the nineteenth century, arguably the most tumultuous in Frances national memory. Such momentary acts of disruption proved the limits of their novelty as consumable products, and their appeal as destinations of leisure qui ckly gave way to new advents in public entertainment, pointing to the cabarets failure to affect any substantive change in Paris collective interpretation of modernity, and attest to its status as a mass produced fantasy. Inevitably, the subversive impli cations of the cabarets did not belie their transience as modes of commercial consumption, and being marketed as transgressions of the contemporary forces of order only eventually proved the ways in which they manufactured it. What then, does the momentary nature of a reified bohemia in Montmartre at the fin de sicle suggest? As I have argued, it negotiated competing visions of modernity, and ultimately, I conclude that it typified and enacted the bourgeois vision of Parisian modernity i n a community and social space that until bohemias emergence, had not been thoroughly assimilated into that model. Montmartre bohemianism, with the cabaret
Conclusion 118 serving as its primary cultural institution and mediator of identity, related Montmartres past and collective hi storical memory to the emergent and rapidly expanding prerogatives of the newly enfranchised Parisian bourgeois order. Bohemi a ultimately introduced methods and strategies of capitalist modes of production, mass consumption, commercialized leisure, patriarchal and patently hierarchical notions of gender sociability, and visual spectacle to a historically marginal and radically delinquent community. While previous assumptions have understood the consolidation of Montmartre bohemianism into the bourgeois actuality of urban commercialism and conspicuous consumption in public space as an act of cultural reconciliation between the t wo social strata, Montmartres integration into modern Paris is rather best understood as an example of the bourgeois ies growing power and cultural influence in French public life. T he bohemia that typified Montmartre communal life at the fin de sicle wa s therefore not influenced by bourgeois practices of everyday life, but instead a product of them Consequently, this commodified bohemia reproduced the quotidian realities and norms of bourgeois life in a commercial fashion, affording bourgeois audiences the artifice of bohemia as a fantastical means of escaping the material realities of urban life, and in turn informing the spectacular nature of the communitys trajectory as an institutional pillar of commercial entertainment in Paris Such developments, in the end, attested to the bourgeoisies influence in fashioning the material, ideological, and cultural legacies of the modern city.
Index of Images: Chapter I 119 Figure 1.1: A map of Montmartre at the end of the nineteenth century. The southern limit of the map clearly shows the Boulevards Rochechouart and Clichy as well as the Place Pigalle, the crux of Paris sex trade and where many of the cabarets artistiques were founded, demonstrating their geographically liminal position between the nucleus of the butte Montmartre and the ninth arrondissement of Haussmannized Paris and emphasizing the commonalities of criminality and transgressive behavior that typified urb an life in bohemia and the gentrified city center. Map dated to early twentieth century, otherwise non determined. Courtesy of etsy.com. Accessed March 14, 2013. http://www.etsy.com/listing/80632667/digitaldownloadparis street map butte
Index of Images: Chapter I 120 Figure 1.2: A New Map of Monumental Paris in 1899 shows Haussmanns contributions in monumental architecture to the Parisian urban landscape as well as the new network of grands boulevards avenues and thoroughfares that comprised the citys redesign and massive s cale according to Montorgueil. This map shows an obvious discrepancy in the density of street planning and population, with most boulevards and monuments congregating towards the city center, the first and second arrondissements and the Ile de la Cit. L. Guilmin, Nouveau Plan de Paris monumental, (Paris: L. G uilman, 1899). C ourtesy of the Bibliothque nationale de France, dpartement Cartes.
Index of Images: Chapter I 121 Figure 1.3: Painting of the Avenue de lOpra intersecting the Boulevard des Capucines from the Htel du Louvre by Camille Pissarro. Pissarros painting rather faithfully depicts the scale of Haussmanns project, portraying Haussmanns uniform architectural style, boulevard width, and the introduction of monumental architecture, here demonstrated in the P alais Garnier in the central background of the frame, the new site constructed for the Paris opera in 1877. The Avenue de lOpra typifies the spectacular qualities of public boulevard culture that Haussmannisation came to represent. The avenue is located centrally in the first arrondissement of Paris, on the right bank of the river Seine. Camille Pissarro, Avenue de lOpra, soleil, matine dhiver, oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm, Paris. Courtesy of the Muse des beaux arts de Reims.
Index of Images: Chapter I 122 Figure 1.4: Map of Bohemian Montmartre in 1900. The maps inset shows, however unclearly, the cabarets centrality not within the commune of Montmartre itself or on the hill but rather on the periphery of the ninth and eighteenth arrondissements, primarily concentra ted around the Place Pigalle on the boulevards Rochechouart and Clichy. Each black square on the inset marks a cabarets location, the dotted black line representing the two boulevards, demarcated as the border between the two arrondissements and southern limit of Montmartre proper. Illustration found in Victor Meusy and Edmond Depas, Guide de ltranger Montmartre, (Paris: J. Strauss, 1900).
Index of Images: Chapter II 123 Figure 2.1: Adolphe Willettes Le Parce Domine (1884) mural at the original Chat Noir. Le Parce Domine signifies a broader trend within cabaret life to model Montmartres bohemian community upon the vision and image of the carnivalesque. Adolphe Willette, Le Parce Domine, woodburytype, 9 x 18.3, from Pauvre Pierrot, (Paris: E. Vanier, 1884).
Index of Images: Chapter II 124 Figure 2.2: Henri Rivires illustration of the old Chat Noir cabaret s interior. The drawing depicts a stratification of cabaret social spa ce according to carnivals inversion of dominant power structures and social hierarchies. This illustration clearly portrays the bohemian artist (represented here by Adolphe Willette painting the Parce Domine and a chansonnier at the piano) at the apex of Montmartre cabaret society, the Montmartre resident as its middle class and the moneyed bourgeoisie as the lowest caste within the establishments pecking order. Henri Rivire, Lancien Chat Noir, photo relief illustration for Le Chat noir, June 13 1885. Courtesy of the Schimmel Fund at the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University New Brunswick.
Index of Images : Chapter III 125 Figure 3.1: Henry Somm, La Perverse: Proposed by Montorgueil to be the archetypical Montmartroise. See Georges Montorgueil, La Parisienne peint e par elle mme, (Paris : Librairie L. Conquet, 1897), 190.
Index of Images : Chapter III 126 Figure 3.2: Jos Roy, cover for J. Pladan, Femmes Honntes : Such a representation of Eve demonstrates her cultural implications as an emasculating figure. See Josphin Pladan, Femmes Honntes, (Paris: Camille Dalou, 1888).
Index of Images : Chapter III 127 Figure 3.3: Adolphe Willete, La Sainte Dmocratie : The capti on reads: Je suis la Sainte Dmocratie : j attends mes amants. ( I am Saint Democracy: Im waiting for my lovers.) The sexually threatening implications are readily apparent in this illustration, where a canonical saint is represented as a nude sans culottes waiting to decapitate her ostensibly male lovers. Adolphe Willette, uvres Choisies : choisies dans le Courrier Franais, 18941901, (Paris: H. Simonis Empis, 1901), 38.
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