German Romantics Imagining India : Friedrich Schlegel in Paris and Roots of Ethnic Nationalism in Europe
- When, some two centuries ago, German Romantics turned their backs on modernity – industrialisation, urbanisation, commerce and secularisation – they turned to ancient India. For them, India exemplified the primordial unity of mankind with this and the afterworld. For sections of the emerging nationalist movement in Germany, found the deployment of India handy to question the cultural hegemony, and eventually break the political dominance, of France. They tried to surpass the French, who claimed the ancient Roman heritage, by claiming an even older heritage for the Germans. Friedrich Schlegel for example suggested that the German language, and not the French, stood in unbroken continuity with ancient Sanskrit. For Romantics such as he, Sanskrit, the oldest surviving Indo-European language, was closest to the language of original divine revelation. This lead Schlegel to romanticise India in a way that stood in marked contrast to the Orientalist clichés current in other parts of Europe at the time. For him, the link between Sanskrit and German made Germany the true oriental self of Europe. The importance of this particular representation of India for the German national movement is underlined by the great number of university chairs that sprang up in the course of the nineteenth century: twenty two in Germany as opposed to only three in the United Kingdom. This paper explores the particular kind of ‘inverse’ Orientalism of the Germans in the context of its recent post-colonial critique.
Transnational geography and identity through translation and distribution in Germany, Spain and Latin America
- During the 1930s through the 1940s and into the 1950s, Spanish and German presentations in opposition to ardent nationalism share strikingly common aesthetic and ideological strategies supporting claims to a transnational, international space. Specific examples of common geography, identity and language in German and Spanish presentations (theater, short stories, reports, essays, speeches and poetry) in Spain and Latin America by German (Regler, Renn, Uhse), Spanish (J. Bergamin, R. Alberti, M. Aub) and Latin American (D. Rivera, P. Neruda, C. Vallejo) intellectuals, artists and activists during the 1930s through the 1950s will be explored. For example, German-speaking audiences and artists in Spain and Mexico shared a common lived and aesthetic space as Spanish-speaking audiences and artists. Further, many German presentations were translated into Spanish and visa versa. Here, presentations in “Das Wort” and “El Mono Azul” in Spain as well as “Freies Deutschland/Alemania libre” in Mexico will be referenced in developing a sense of re-definition of the concept of ‘foreign’ and ‘commonness’ beyond simply nationality (tradition, history and geography) and language. The impetus for an alternative, international and even revolutionary ‘space’ (as defined by Henri Lefebvre in The Production of Space) was produced in and through common Spanish and German strategies and realizations in their presentations. This Spanish-German example from the early/mid-part of the 20th century is a significant contribution to contemporary interdisciplinary discussions in the 21st century.