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By Miranda Gill

What did it suggest to name an individual 'eccentric' in nineteenth-century Paris? And why did breaking with conference arouse such ambivalent responses in middle-class readers, writers, and spectators? From excessive society to Bohemia and the demi-monde to the madhouse, the scandal of nonconformism provoked nervousness, disgust, and sometimes secre craving. In a tradition preoccupied through the necessity for order ye at the same time interested in the values of freedom and innovation, eccentricity always validated the limits of bourgeois identification, finally turning into inseparable from it. This interdisciplinary learn charts transferring French perceptions of the anomalous and peculiar from the 1830s to the fin de siècle, concentrating on 3 key concerns. First, in the course of the July Monarchy eccentricity used to be associated with style dandyism, and commodity tradition; to many Parisians it epitomized the harmful seductions of modernity and the turning out to be status of the courtesan. moment, within the aftermath of the 1848 Revolution eccentricity used to be linked to the Bohemian artists and performers who inhabited 'the unknown Paris', a region of social exclusion which middle-class spectators discovered either attention-grabbing and repugnant. eventually, the popularization of scientific theories of nationwide decline within the latter a part of the century ended in reducing tolerance for person distinction, and eccentricity used to be interpreted as a symptom of hidden madness and deformity. Drawing on quite a lot of assets, together with etiquette manuals, type magazines, newspapers, novels, and psychiatric treatises, the research highlights the crucial position of gender in shaping perceptions of eccentricity. It presents new readings of works by means of significant French writers and illuminates either famous and overlooked figures of Parisian modernity, from the courtesan and Bohemian to the feminine dandy and circus freak.

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