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It is a beautifully clear day despite the freezing cold, and mon chéri is napping on the couch beside me. Charles Aznavour and I are singing la bohème just low enough not to wake him, and I am thinking back to a cold little closet of a room we once lived in on the sixth floor of a crumbling building in Paris’s 14ème arrondissement.
La bohème. It was French novelist Henri Murger who first romanticized the expression in his 1847 novel, ‘Scènes de la vie de bohème.’ The term originally designated a region in what is today the Czech Republic, inhabited then by a poor, nomadic group called Gypsies or Romany. But with Murger it came to mean ‘a world of artists, social rebels, and radicals who rejected the comforts of the bourgeoisie, opting instead for poverty, and believing that any true experience demanded suffering. They were committed to a life of freedom, work, and pleasure, and eschewed the corruption and rotten values of conventional society.’ Continue reading »