Facing East: Orientalism and Antisemitism in Heine’s Hebräische Melodien
The oriental imaginary of Heinrich Heine’s cycle, Hebräische Melodien (1851), borrows and diverges from European orientalism and its German Jewish counterpart, sephardism. In departing from these traditions, Heine launches a critique of both discourses and highlights their shared assertion of Western superiority. His recreation of the Sephardic past attacks the ideologies perpetuated by literary and historiographical treatments of the Orient. Directed against German Jewish orientalism and its idealization of Andalusi Jewish experience, Hebräische Melodien features complex, ambivalent portrayals of Sephardim and their Muslim neighbours. Heine’s Muslims reflect their shared history with Jews as Europe’s oriental others but also perpetrate violence against Jews. The cycle’s depictions of antisemitism in a poetic Orient serve to expose the lethal consequences of orientalism’s cultural hierarchy.
Cooper, Gabriel. 2020. "Facing East: Orientalism and Antisemitism in Heine’s Hebräische Melodien.” Seminar 56(1): 55-74.
University of Toronto Press
Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies
Antisemitism, German Jews, Hebräische Melodien, Heinrich Heine, Muslims, Orientalism, Sephardim, Sephardism