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


  • Liesbeth Minnaard


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


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.

Author Biography

Liesbeth Minnaard

Liesbeth Minnaard is Assistant Professor of Literary Studies at the University of Leiden. She specializes in interculturality in literature and in cultural effects of migration and globalization. Her publications include New Germans, New Dutch. Literary Interventions published in 2008 (Amsterdam University Press) and several articles on German and Dutch literature of migration. She is currently co-editing a volume on Literature and Multiculturality in Scandinavia and the Low Countries (forthcoming 2011).




How to Cite

Minnaard, L. (2010). The Spectacle of an Intercultural Love Affair: Exoticism in Van Deyssel’s Blank en geel. Journal of Dutch Literature, 1(1). Retrieved from