Gypsies and the British Imagination, 1807-1930 by Deborah Nord Ph.D.

By Deborah Nord Ph.D.

Gypsies and the British mind's eye, 1807-1930, is the 1st e-book to discover totally the British obsession with Gypsies during the 19th century and into the 20th. Deborah Epstein Nord strains numerous representations of Gypsies within the works of such famous British authors John Clare, Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, and D. H. Lawrence. Nord additionally exhumes lesser-known literary, ethnographic, and historic texts, exploring the attention-grabbing histories of nomadic author George Borrow, the Gypsy Lore Society, Dora Yates, and different infrequently tested figures and institutions.

Gypsies have been either idealized and reviled by way of Victorian and early-twentieth-century Britons. linked to primitive wants, lawlessness, crafty, and sexual extra, Gypsies have been additionally gadgets of antiquarian, literary, and anthropological curiosity. As Nord demonstrates, British writers and artists drew on Gypsy characters and plots to redefine and reconstruct cultural and racial distinction, nationwide and private id, and the individual's courting to social and sexual orthodoxies. Gypsies have been lengthy linked to pastoral conventions and, within the 19th century, got here to face in for the traditional British prior. utilizing myths of switched infants, Gypsy kidnappings, and the Gypsies' murky origins, authors projected onto Gypsies their very own wants to get away conference and their anxieties in regards to the ambiguities of identification. The literary representations that Nord examines have their roots within the interaction among the concept of Gypsies as a separate, frequently despised race and the psychic or aesthetic wish to dissolve the boundary among English and Gypsy worlds. via the start of the 20 th century, she argues, romantic identity with Gypsies had hardened into caricature-a phenomenon mirrored in D. H. Lawrence's The Virgin and the Gipsy-and completely obscured the truth of Gypsy lifestyles and historical past.

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9 John Hoyland, a Quaker historian of Gypsies in Britain, whose Historical Survey of the Customs, Habits, & Present State of the Gypsies owed a great deal to Grellman’s work, expresses similarly contradictory views of the Gypsies’ integrity as a people. 12 Europeans favored the notion of Gypsy homogeneity because it reassured them about their own distinctness and national or “racial” integrity. The idea of an intermingled people raised anxieties about the permeability of boundaries between groups and the possibility of mixture on both sides of the presumed Gypsy–European divide.

In the intervening years, his mother has died in childbirth, and his father has perished a broken, presumably heirless man, his estate sold to an arriviste named Glossin. Brown’s identity is a mystery to all, including himself. Mannering, longing to redeem his life and that of his daughter, also returns to Scotland and the vicinity of Ellangowan House, hoping to purchase the estate and there “nurse the melancholy that was to accompany him to his grave” (1:122). ”41 Peter Garside points to the text’s frequent yoking of Gypsies and Indians and concludes that Scott knew current theories identifying India rather than Egypt as the Gypsies’ land of origin.

I have used the term in this book largely without quotation marks, even though its definitions in the nineteenth century clearly differ from those in the twenty-first. indd 20 3/10/2006 9:36:01 AM 1 A “Mingled Race” Walter Scott’s Gypsies I n the last decades of the eighteenth and early decades of the nineteenth century, when etymologists, antiquarians, historians, missionaries, and reformers began to piece together the story of the European Gypsies, they returned again and again to the question of the origin and extraordinary longevity of these people, with their deep and extensive past in Europe.

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