The Village People

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American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century
By Christine Stansell
Metropolitan, 420 pp., $30
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Stansell's bohemia didn't survive World War I, which repressed The Masses and The Little Review, led to the early deaths of Bourne and Reed, and sent Anderson and Goldman into exile, voluntary and involuntary respectively. In a regrettable boho tradition, she sounds a little waspish describing what came after her great moment. The Village of the '20s may have commercialized sex and valorized youth, if those are bad things, but it also had far more room for African Americans and popular culture, as well as producing better writing. Hart Crane, Edna St. Vincent Millay, e.e. cummings, and the maturing Eugene O'Neill may not have been much for demos or hanging out, but they left their own enduring heritage—including an ever more protean and elastic bohemia, every era of which deserves a history or three as thoughtful as this one.

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