Angel Angelov – Metropolis and Exotica: Heinrich Heine on Leopold Robert and on Alexandre Gabriel Decamps

Abstract:In European metropolitan cities such as Paris, London and Berlin time in social terms at the end of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century is dynamic, its main characteristics being ‘change’ and ‘instability’. Against such dynamics folk culture in one’s own country seems primal, stable, unchanged for centuries. This is especially true of an outsider’s view on the folk cultures of countries such as Italy and Spain. In the present article, I will interpret such an understanding of ‘folk culture’ as exotica, as a result of the outsider’s look of a metropolitan citizen. In this case the exotic (attractive or repelling) marks the boundary between own and alien, between history and timelessness. In the period under review, this position can be found in visual images, texts, melodies and reflections.

My intention is to demonstrate the following in the article:

– the way Heinrich Heine shares and affirms – using paintings – an imaginary geography of Europe, divided into a historical one (France, England) in which historical changes happen and an exotic folk one (Italy, Tyrol, the Pyrenees). Europe consists of political centres and ahistorical (natural) peripheries.

– the way Heine uses the painting by Decamps ‘Hadji-Bey, Chief of Police in Smyrna Making His Rounds’ (1831) in order to present the Orient as animal-like, degenerate, or legendary; however, in both cases the Orient is equally ahistorical.

Key words:metropolis, exotica, Heinrich Heine , Leopold Robert, Alexandre Gabriel Decamps.

Rhetoric and Communications Е-Journal, Issue 12, April 2014,, ISSN 1314-4464


Read the original of the article (in Bulgarian)