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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 14, Issue 2 (June 2016) : 303-321
A Spatial Expansion of a Pocket-Size Homeland
Heinrich Heineís Construction of Jewish Space
Cecilie S. Schrøder Simonsen
Rubric A: Episodes in the History of Ideas
Rubric B: German Literature


This article explores Heinrich Heineís two texts about Jews and Jewish life, Über Polen and Der Rabbi von Bacherach, to show how the foundations for a Jewish homeland were laid in Jewish literature of early 19th-century Western and Central Europe. The article demonstrates how a common Jewish space was established in Heineís texts and how this space intellectually and emotionally came to signify home for modern Jewish readers. It presents a new perspective on the spaces of Heineís early works by focusing on what was particularly Jewish about these spaces. Heineís establishment of a Jewish cultural space began with a journey to Eastern Europe. In Polish villages Heine found the inspiration for a Jewish cultural landscape that he would describe in a romantically idealized way in Über Polen and Der Rabbi von Bacherach, attaching positive values to Jewish traditional lifestyle and incorporating scriptural references of the kind that made traditional Jewish life accessible to assimilated Jews and non-Jews alike. Heine took his readers into Jewish spaces such as a Jewish home, synagogue, and street. He gave the Jewish readers a sense of togetherness, of belonging to a Jewish space that was available through literature. The article explores the potential of Jewish cultural space and shows how Heine constructed a modern Jewish cultural space with room for both traditional and modern Jews.

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