Q: "bourgeois epitan costume"

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 5 14:31:08 UTC 2011

Laurence Horn wrote
> That must be right, as a reference to the classic line of the decadents (Baudelaire? Rimbaud?) about how the goal of the (avant-garde) artist is "épater les bourgeois".  Do we have a first cite for that one?

OED has this (the typography may be scrambled in transit for some
readers because I am using cut-and-paste to preserve the accents):

épater, v.
  Phr. épater le(s) bourgeois : to startle or shock the ‘man in the
street’ or the uncritical adherent of traditional (artistic or
ethical) theories. The French phrase ‘Je les ai épatés, les bourgeois’
is attributed to Alexandre Privat d'Anglemont (d. 1859).

1903    G. B. Shaw Man & Superman Ep. Ded. p. v,   You once asked me
why I did not write a Don Juan play.‥ You meant me to épater le

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