Deborah Epstein Nord traces the nearly ubiquitous British preoccupation with Gypsies in imaginative works by John Clare, Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, George Eliot, Arthur Conan Doyle, and D. H. Lawrence. She also exhumes lesser-known literary, ethnographic, and historical texts, exploring the fascinating histories of the nomadic writer George Borrow, the Gypsy Lore Society, Dora Yates, and other rarely examined figures and institutions. These textual representations are characterized by a tension between Gypsies as an alien, often despised "race" and the psychic or aesthetic desire to dissolve the boundary between English and Gypsy worlds. Nord suggests that, by the beginning of the twentieth century, romantic identification with Gypsies hardened into caricature and served to obscure the realities of Gypsy life and history. This phenomenon is reflected most famously in The Virgin and the Gipsy, in which D. H. Lawrence both exploits and criticizes the myth of Gypsies' unfettered sensuality, closeness to nature, and opposition to the oppressive strictures of modern life.
- Publication Date:
- 22 / 07 / 2006