épater les bourgeois

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épater les bourgeois

To surprise people who have traditional views. "Épater" means "to flabbergast" in French. Our world is so crazy these days that it takes a lot to épater les bourgeois.
See also: les
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

épater les bourgeois

shock people who have attitudes or views regarded as conventional or complacent.
The French phrase is generally used in English, there being no exact English equivalent. ‘Il faut épater le bourgeois’ (‘one must astonish the bourgeois’) was a comment attributed to the French poet and critic Charles Baudelaire .
1995 Times Because it takes more than a urinal to épater les bourgeois now, the real things that are being hauled into galleries grow ever more provocative: turds, frozen foetuses and used sanitary towels.
See also: les
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
In choosing an implicitly controversial subject, and moving towards a revolutionary treatment, influenced very strongly by exhibits of indigenous African art that he had recently seen, Picasso relished the opportunity to shock the middle classes--as they say in France, epater les bourgeois. But he also faced a complex set of artistic challenges and dilemmas.
For many of us the Review's role in showcasing Naked Lunch in the 1950s exemplified its identity: to feature innovative, experimental, or unconventional writing that might not easily find an outlet elsewhere, maybe with a little bit of epater les bourgeois thrown in for good measure.
Finley was a combination of sarcasm and condescension, delivered in not one, but two nifty foreign phrases: "Avant-garde artistes such as respondents remain entirely free to epater les bourgeois; they are merely deprived of the additional satisfaction of having the bourgeoisie taxed to pay for it." (26) One suspects that Justice Scalia chose those phrases very carefully, well-attuned to their subtle shades of meaning.
Though this might seem like OMA doing its familiar epater les bourgeois, Koolhaas has a more intimate Almere connection--his uncle, Teun, was part of the team that developed the original masterplan.
His half-dozen impressive pages here on Wittgenstein are in quite a different key, and show that he is no fool, although he remains, I feel, a clever schoolboy embarrassed by his own intelligence and perversely determined to misuse it to epater les bourgeois.
Flaubert's war cry may have been 'epater les bourgeois' but it didn't take long for his works to become essential reading for the middle classes.
And then there is the irrepressible urge epater les bourgeois, who might, after all, have taken some false comfort from Hauerwas' high praise of the Trollopian gentleman; thus we have an essay on 'Why Gays (as a Group) are Morally Superior to Christians (as a Group)'.
The thrust of the artists represented is anything but bourgeois; in their idealistic adherence to abolishing old forms and creating new kinds of theatre, they followed the traditional avantgarde mandate: epater les bourgeois. To the charge of formalism, however, they had no defense.
Round the plaza edges is an artificial topography of rolling mounds that will be energetically colonised by rollerbladers (you can imagine them merrily scything down people coming out of Vivaldi concerts; perhaps part of the punk gameplan to epater les bourgeois).