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

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University of Chicago Press, Oct 1, 1998 - History - 378 pages
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For centuries, France has cast an extraordinary spell on travelers. Harvey Levenstein's Seductive Journey explains why so many Americans have visited it, 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.

From Fragonard to foie gras, the delicious details of this story of how American visitors to France responded to changing notions of leisure and blazed the trail for modern mass tourism makes for delightful, thought-provoking reading.

"...a thoroughly readable and highly likable book."óDeirdre Blair, New York Times Book Review
  

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Seductive journey: American tourists in France from Jefferson to the Jazz Age

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This highly readable volume from Levenstein (professor emeritus, McMaster Univ.; The Transformation of the American Diet, 1880-1930, LJ 2/1/88), an authority on the social history of food, opens with ... Read full review

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Contents

JEFFERSON VERSUS ADAMS
3
GETTING THERE WAS NOT HALF THE FUN
13
EAT DRINK BUT BE WARY
37
THE ATHENS OF MODERN EUROPE
53
PLEASURES OF THE FLESH
67
PARIS AND TOURISM TRANSFORMED 18481870
83
PARIS TRANSFORMED
85
KEEPING AWAY FROM THE JONESES
93
HOW THE OTHER HALF TOURED
157
CLASS GENDER AND THE RISE OF ANTITOURISM
177
MACHISMO MORALITY AND MILLIONAIRES
197
THE INVASION OF THE LOWER ORDERS 19171930
215
DOUGHBOYS AND DOLLARS
217
HOW RE YOU GONNA KEEP EM DOWN ON THE FARM?
233
A FAREWELL TO CULTURE VULTURES
245
UNHAPPY HOSTS UNWELCOME VISITORS
257

THE FEMINIZATION OF AMERICAN TOURISM
107
CLASS GENDER AND THE RISE OF LEISURE TOURISM 18701914
123
THE GOLDEN AGE OF TRAVEL
125
PRISONERS OF LEISURE UPPERCLASS TOURISM
139
EPILOGUE
277
Notes
285
Index
353
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Harvey Levenstein is professor emeritus of history at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He has published a number of books on American history, including Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet and Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America.

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