Q: "bourgeois epitan costume"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Oct 6 04:31:59 UTC 2011

Thanks to Douglas, Laurence, and Garson, in
chronological order.  This must be it -- costumes
to shock the bourgeois.  (Some in the Brett DVD
were pretty racy.)  The subtitler was illiterate
in French as well as English.  And the literary
allusion is surely intended -- later, Langdale
Pike refers to Isadora Klein as "la belle dame sans merci".

In passing, on-line French dictionaries do not
have "epatant" as "shocking", but rather "super,
splendid, stunning, spiffing, spanking" -- quite
a different sense and not fitting either
"bourgeois" or the "Three Gables" scene -- or
"epater", which they do define as "to amaze, stagger".


At 10/5/2011 10:31 AM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
>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
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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