I am trying to figure out if this expression really exists in English. It does feature, a little bit like the word louche (funny that they go rather well together), but not everyone seems to recognise them.

It comes of course (like louche) from French: demi-monde, which to me indicates a liminal ‘layer’ of society between the conventional world and the underworld – and interface where, well, ‘adventurous’ people meet. Demimondaine more or less means ‘mistress’ – a polite term that indicates ladies who live on the fringes of respectability. (Apparently not necessarily in the professional sense.)

“In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, the “demimonde” refers to a semi-tolerated, “off the net” society of commerce and education”, it says on Wikipedia. It has a pleasing ambiguity. If it was today, I guess it would overlap with subculture, and possibly rub shoulders with what might be called the avant-garde.

By the way, isn’t this pretty?: Half World, by Hiromi Goto.


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