ABSTRACT. The article explores the way in which European Modernity generates a set of conflicting representations of Roma people, both in collective mentalities and in the elevated cultural narratives. The common topic of these representations and literary constructs is an assumed essential freedom of the “Gypsy” way of living, which, on the one hand, gives rise to scholarly anthropological concerns in the Age of Enlightenment and, on the other hand, ignites the literary imagination in Romanticism. From the vilifying discourse of the early anthropologists in the Enlightenment to the idealizing narrative of Romanticists, the topics of “essential freedom” and “resistance to civilization” encompass all the modern European representations and cultural fabrications on Roma people. The article highlights a significant moment in the process of emergence of this imagological oxymoron: the transition from a rather antiziganistic scholarly perspective (promoted by the first anthropologists and linguists who showed an interest in the Roma people) to a somewhat philoziganist Romanticist cultural milieu, which glorified the noble savage. pp. 60–73

Keywords: Enlightenment; Romanticism; history of ideas; cultural studies

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Spiru Haret University, Bucharest

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