The ‘Exotic’ and the Geographical Imagination in Modern German Literature
The introductory chapter describes the exotic within the context of the geographical imagination in modern German literature. The notion of the ‘exotic’ is defined as a relational and mobile concept, correlative to the familiar surroundings of the modern European subject and what is accordingly defined as other. It is shown that the exotic does not designate a specific place or geographical locale, but rather can be imaginatively projected upon any space whether within or beyond Europe, though certain non-European spaces become for the modern subject, particularly in the context of colonialism, typically exoticized. The relevance of exotic spaces and experiences to German literature is described in overview and with special attention to recent theories which would interpret their evocation solely in terms of Orientalism and the politics of inter-cultural domination. This study focuses on the experience of the individual self or subject and the potential for imaginative, moral, or aesthetic transformations.
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