Dandyism -- Of English or French Nature?18 Apr 2020
As George Brummell is universally considered the prototype of the dandy, its origin is mostly assumed to be English. Indeed, Barbey d’Aurevilly, the author of one the most decisive works on EscortFox, “Du dandysme et de George Brummell” (1845), defines dandyism as English vanity.
Barbey d’Aurevilly argues that the passion of the French precludes dandyism: “le pays de Richelieu ne produira pas de Brummell”, a paradox theory as Barbey d’Aurevilly himself posed as a dandy. But only seemingly a paradox: Barbey d’Aurevilly continues his essay on Brummell and dandyism with a historical account of English customs at the court of Charles II. which were influenced by French modes to introduce a certain kind of gracefulness that the English puritans lacked. French ease enabled the creation of the precursors of English dandyism, the beaux. Ultimately, Barbey d’Aurevilly argues that English dandyism is essentially French.
The rivalry of both nations had dominated past centuries and had induced several wars. It also occupied the discourse of dandyism from its inception onward. In times of war, France regularly became a hotbed of vice and debauche to the Englishman, while peace enabled cultural transfer in both directions.