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Seductive Journey American Tourists in France from Jefferson to the Jazz Age cover
  • ISBN: 9780226473765
  • ISBN10: 0226473767

Seductive Journey American Tourists in France from Jefferson to the Jazz Age

by Harvey Levenstein

  • List Price: $30.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 09/01/1998
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Description
For centuries, France has cast an extraordinary spell on travelers. Harvey Levenstein's Seductive Journey explains why so many Americans have visited the country, and tells, in colorful detail, what they did when they got there. The result is a highly entertaining examination of the transformation of American attitudes toward French food, sex, and culture, as well as an absorbing exploration of changing notions of class, gender, race, and nationality.

Levenstein begins in 1786, when Thomas Jefferson instructed young upper-class American men to travel overseas for self-improvement rather than debauchery. Inspired by these sentiments, many men crossed the Atlantic to develop "taste" and refinement. However, the introduction of the transatlantic steamship in the mid-nineteenth century opened France to people further down the class ladder. As the upper class distanced themselves from the lower-class travelers, tourism in search of culture gave way to the tourism of "conspicuous leisure", sex, and sensuality. Cultural tourism became identified with social-climbing upper-middle-class women. In the 1920s, Prohibition in America and a new middle class intent on "having fun" helped make drunken sprees in Paris more enticing than trudging through the Louvre. Bitter outbursts of French anti-Americanism failed to jolt the American ideal of a sensual, happy-go-lucky France, full of joie de vivre. It remained Americans' favorite overseas destination.

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