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A dandy (also known as a beau or gallant) is term historically used to describe a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of self. A dandy could be a self-made who strove to imitate an lifestyle despite coming from a middle-class background, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain.
Previous manifestations of the petit-maître (French for small master) and the Muscadin have been noted by John C. Prevost, but the modern practice of dandyism first appeared in the revolutionary 1790s, both in London and in Paris. The dandy cultivated cynical reserve, yet to such extremes that novelist George Meredith, himself no dandy, once defined cynicism as "intellectual dandyism." Some took a more benign view; Thomas Carlyle wrote in Sartor Resartus that a dandy was no more than "a clothes-wearing man". Honoré de Balzac introduced the perfectly worldly and unmoved Henri de Marsay in La fille aux yeux d'or (1835), a part of La Comédie Humaine, who fulfils at first the model of a perfect dandy, until an obsessive love-pursuit unravels him in passionate and murderous jealousy.
Charles Baudelaire defined the dandy, in the later "metaphysical" phase of dandyism, as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion, that the dandy's mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: "Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism" and "These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking .... Dandyism is a form of Romanticism. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of mind."
- Bill Dauterive
- Don Diego de la Vega, alter ego of Zorro
- Fai D. Flourite in the manga series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
Lamont Cranston in the pulp novel series The Shadow and subsequent re-inventions
- Thomas Crown in the film The Thomas Crown Affair
Sandalio de Rabiffano, also called "Biffy", a former vampire drone to Lord Akeldama, turned reluctant werewolf in Lord Maccon's pack
- Addison DeWitt in the film All About Eve
- Count Dracula
- Dudley (Street Fighter)
- Anton Ego, the restaurant critic in the film Ratatouille
- Count Fosco in the novel The Woman in White
- Jay Gatsby
- J.J. "Jake" Gittes from the 1974 Film "Chinatown", the screenplay, in particular, makes a point of repeatedly mentioning his impeccable style of dress
John Hart in the television series Torchwood
- Jason King in the television series Department S and Jason King
- Hans Landa
- Boris Lermentov from the 1948 film The Red Shoes
- Lestat de Lioncourt
- Liquid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)
- Gilderoy Lockhart
- Lucius Malfoy
- Anthony Patch in the novel The Beautiful and Damned
- The Marquis de Carabas in the television series Neverwhere
- Montparnasse in the novel Les Misérables
- Vince Noir
- Eugene Onegin
Paladin, the gentleman gunfighter in the television series Have Gun - Will Travel, was often mistaken for a dandy
Le Pied-tendre, a Lucky Luke album in which a dandy called Waldo Badminton visits a Western town.
- Skulduggery Pleasant
- Hercule Poirot
- Professor Ratigan
- Slayer in the video game Guilty Gear
- Barney Stinson
Adrian Veidt in the comic-book series Watchmen
Willie Brown, former speaker of the California State Assembly and mayor of San Francisco.
Willy Wonka in the children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bertie Wooster, narrator of P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels
Barbey d'Aurevilly, Jules. Of Dandyism and of George Brummell. Translated by Douglas Ainslie. New York: PAJ Publications, 1988.
- Carassus, Émile. Le Mythe du Dandy 1971.
- Espartaco Carlos, Eduardo Sanguinetti: The Experience of Limits,(Ediciones de Arte Gaglianone, first published 1989) .
- Carlyle, Thomas. Sartor Resartus. In A Carlyle Reader: Selections from the Writings of Thomas Carlyle. Edited by G.B. Tennyson. London: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
- Jesse, Captain William. The Life of Beau Brummell. London: The Navarre Society Limited, 1927.
Lytton, Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton. Pelham or the Adventures of a Gentleman. Edited by Jerome McGann. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.
- Moers, Ellen. The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm. London: Secker and Warburg, 1960.
- Murray, Venetia. An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England. New York: Viking, 1998.
- Nicolay, Claire. Origins and Reception of Regency Dandyism: Brummell to Baudelaire. Ph. D. diss., Loyola U of Chicago, 1998.
- Prevost, John C., Le Dandysme en France (1817–1839) (Geneva and Paris) 1957.
Nigel Rodgers The Dandy: Peacock or Enigma? (London) 2012
- Stanton, Domna. The Aristocrat as Art 1980.
Wharton, Grace and Philip. Wits and Beaux of Society. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1861.
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