The Spectacle of an Intercultural Love Affair: Exoticism in Van Deyssel's Blank en geel

Liesbeth Minnaard

Abstract


This article focuses on Lodewijk van Deyssel’s fascinating novel Blank en geel (White and Yellow) (1894) that tells the story of the encounter between the young Dutch bourgeois woman May and a Chinese merchant Tsengki-Harr in Amsterdam at the end of the nineteenth century. It analyses the representation of exotic otherness in this story about an intercultural love affair that was considered highly improper at that time. In a careful analysis of the novel’s mode of narration the article demonstrates how Blank en geel testifies to both a fascination with, and a fear of, the exotic other, thus reflecting, as well as catering for the ambivalent mind-set of the fin-de-siècle reader. It argues that the novel, while securing the stability of bourgeois ‘normality’, simultaneously offers this fin-de-siècle reader the pleasure of scandalous reading.

Keywords


Exoticism; Interculturality; Fin-de-Siècle Literature; Race; Gender; Otherness

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