for Home or Homelands
and the Indeterminate Narrative in Frances Burney’s The
The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties
(1814), Frances Burney's last novel, opens with the flight
of a nameless heroine in search of her 'loved, long lost,
and fearfully recovered native land'. 
Born in Wales and raised in France, the Wanderer flees to
England in the aftermath of the French Revolution, attempting
to find a safe haven in a location she has been made to
think of as her home only to discover that she is marked
as 'a poor destitute Wanderer' (p. 49), considered
foreign by the insular Englishmen she encounters. Homelessness
and the longing for home are central themes in the novel,
tying in with the potentials and pitfalls of a rising Romantic
nationalism. In juxtaposing prejudices based on 'memories'
of a national past with personal longings for home, friends,
and family, The Wanderer takes up and further conflicts
the struggle between self and society that informs Burney's
earlier novels and indeed late-eighteenth-century 'pre-Romantic'
fiction in general and becomes invested with new possibilities
and complications in the full-blown Romantic novel. 
With its intriguing exposure of the new nationalist nostalgia
of the early nineteenth century, Burney's last novel casts
a different light on the elusive genre of Romantic fiction
and the uses (and abuses) of nostalgia by the Romantic nationalisms
that are created and critiqued in the literature of the
time. The concept of a shared, national, memory is evoked
and then dismissed as the dramatic fate of the wandering
orphan heroine dismantles ideologies of the homeland. The
longing for belonging is instead realised by an alternative
ideal community, the chosen family, transcending national
borders and nationalist alignments by suggesting a domestic
solution to the warring desires of self-fulfilment and social
acceptance that plague the Romantic self. This essay sees
The Wanderer as a reaction to the nationalist agenda
that informs a large number of Romantic novels and as an
alternative to Burkean reactions to the French Revolution.
endorsing the new nationalist ideology of the homeland,
regional novels and national tales, by contrast, attempt
to create a communal nostalgia for places that are meant
to be exotic to the general reader, while construing memories
of something that is familiar, though remote enough to be
invested with the allure of the exotic. It has been suggested
that Walter Scott creates a Highland Arcadia in Waverley
(1814) in which the hero's 'romantic reservoir' lives up
to his expectations after all. 
In Maria Edgeworth's Ennui (1809) and The Absentee
(1812) and in Lady Morgan's The Wild Irish Girl
(1806), estates in Ireland figure as repositories of down-to-earth
attachments and ancient customs, as colonial spaces neglected
by absentee landlords, and as the true home, in sharp relief
to England, which is represented by the corrupt city of
London. In The Absentee, for example, Lord Colambre's
return to 'his mother earth' evokes 'the early associations
of his childhood, and the patriotic hopes of his riper years.'
Wild Irish Girl describes Ireland as 'a colonised or
a conquered country'. 
The 'diminutive body of our worthy steward' appears to be
'the abode of the transmigrated soul of some West Indian
planter' (p. 23). Yet the hero's original bias-his
expectation of an 'Esquimaux group' (p. 1)-is
displaced by his belief that there is 'no country which
the Irish at present resemble but the modern Greeks' (p. 182).
In this land of antiquity, but refreshing climate, Horatio
can shed the 'pining atrophy' (p. 58) he suffers in
London. Like Glenthorn in Edgeworth's aptly entitled Ennui,
Horatio is 'devoured by ennui, by discontent' (p. 131)
until he rediscovers 'emotions of a character, an energy,
long unknown to [his] apathised feelings' (p. 45) in
a landscape that is exotic and replete with 'communal' nostalgia
for a new homeland. In these novels, a personal quest coincides
with a new patriotism; rebirth with the regeneration of
the rediscovered nation. But what is presented as a straightforward
alignment in these novels is exposed as conflicted in The
Wanderer. The ideal or, in Benedict Anderson's useful
phrase, 'imagined community' created by Romantic ideologies
of the homeland is not always a viable option-as Burney's
wandering heroine has to discover. 
Written in the aftermath of the French Revolution, The
Wanderer offers a different interpretation of nationalist
ideologies-one that is nonetheless not simply an anti-Jacobin
reaction to the excesses of the radical sensibility of the
Frances Burney, by that time married to the émigré Constitutionalist
Alexandre d'Arblay, had first hand experience of both British
and French nationalist xenophobia, and her last novel offers
insight into the production of fiction about the French
Revolution and the uses of nostalgia at the time.
Nationalism and Fictions of Nostalgia
Nostalgia is not merely a recurring theme and an
emotion that is both described in and evoked by the traditional
British novel, but it is also appropriated as a strategic
device to foster a community of readers. In what has now
become a much cited analysis of the origins of nationalism,
Benedict Anderson has pointed out the significance of print-culture-and
specifically the novel and the newspaper as a 'device for
the presentation of simultaneity'-for the creation of imagined
The Enlightenment, Anderson suggests, brings with it 'its
own modern darkness', in which the idea of the nation, supported
by the 'English novel', serves to ensure a 'secular transformation
of fatality into continuity'. 
In its focus on the simultaneity of events experienced by
a community of readers, British fiction presents a 'shared'
memory of common experiences that can be used to fill the
emotional void left by the retreat, disintegration, or unavailability
of real communities and networks. 
Thomas Nipperdey has similarly suggested that nationalism
is set up as a promise of the re-integration of a community
rooted in a 'common culture' and thus a product of nostalgia
caused by the dissolution of tradition and the concomitant
uncertainty and homelessness of the individual. 
Nostalgia, as a remarkably flexible as well as creative
emotion undergoing significant changes in its definition
and use at the time, is deployed in the construction of
nationalist ideologies and promoted by the novel-an influential
medium with an increasingly widespread readership.
of time and the representation of memory, however, are central
to the development of the traditional 'classic' novel in
more than one way: its use of nostalgia catering for a range
of emotional needs and reacting to a changing ideological
climate. A retrospective form of narrative and at the same
time concerned with the life and emotions of the individual,
the novel of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries primarily
intends to offer personal, individualised accounts of the
past. In his influential study The Rise of the Novel,
Ian Watt has already suggested that the classic novel interests
itself much more than any other literary form in the development
of its characters in the course of time, while it also reflects
a 'growing tendency for individual experience to replace
collective tradition', which-as Ian Watt puts it-similarly
forms 'an important part of the general cultural background
of the rise of the novel'. 
So far from being contradictory, Watt's and Anderson's interpretations
of the functions of time and nostalgia in the genre's early
development pinpoint an ambiguity that becomes a central
preoccupation in Romantic fiction. In English Fiction
of the Romantic Period, Gary Kelly significantly speaks
of the villain 'Society' as he analyses the conflicting
longings for individual self-fulfilment and the creation
of a new community or nation in the Romantic period. 
This contradiction is already an essential aspect of the
'pre-Romantic' cults of sensibility and sentimentalism,
as heroes and heroines of feeling advocate a highly individualist
focus on their own emotions while simultaneously depending
on an ideology of empathy. While this dilemma appears to
be solved in self-confidently national or regional fiction,
it becomes reactivated in what can be seen as the domestic
Romantic fiction of Burney and Austen.
nationalism creates an ideology of belonging through the
'othering' of those outside the imagined community-on its
borders or margins-it has moreover a dual relationship with
its counterpart, Romantic orientalism. While the fictional
creation of Highland Arcadias or a rediscovered 'mother
earth' in Ireland plays with the concepts of the exotic
while fostering a nation of readers and an awareness of
a national history or heritage, descriptions of the 'other'
also serve to define the borders of the imagined nation.
Based on notions of exclusivity as well as containment,
the writing of the nation highlights the presence of the
'other' as it simultaneously attempts to displace otherness
(onto other nations) and to erase it (by subsuming it into
an assumed homogeneity). Homesickness and the longing for
'other' spaces consequently acquire additional poignancy.
In that the literary recreation of such national spaces
conjures up places that are meant to be 'exotic' to the
(English) reader, it undercuts the shared longing for a
home or homeland. The 'nostalgia' these texts create is
therefore more akin to the longing for an exotic site that
is central to Romantic orientalism, substituting Fernweh,
the longing for the remote, for Heimweh, or homesickness.
As Nigel Leask has pointed out, in Romantic literature oriental
places 'displace the Arcadian locus amoenus of neo-classicism
from a Mediterranean "Golden Age" to a "contemporary eastern
site" '. 
As part of a general idealisation of a remote place this
form of nostalgia can become more easily fraudulent and
inauthentic. The nostalgic space is often reduced to an
ideal topography devoid of any real emotional investment.
Recent criticism of European orientalism has amply shown
that such a writing of an exotic region or nation tends
to distort its representation. The
Wild Irish Girl describes Ireland as 'a colonised or
a conquered country' (p. 172); and while the novel
succeeds in creating sympathy with the colonised as well
as the coloniser, the described landscape also reduces it
to a contained cosy, exotic space. In The Absentee,
this connection between orientalism and the inner colonies
is comically exemplified by the 'picturesque' decorations
at Lady Clonbrony's gala night, which include a Chinese
pagoda, a Turkish tent, and Alhambra hangings (p. 37).
while the representation of the 'other' in eighteenth- and
nineteenth-century literature has been amply studied ever
since Edward Said's seminal Orientalism (1975) and
Culture and Imperialism (1993), the dual function
of nostalgia in the fiction of the time has not received
the attention it deserves. In an influential postcolonial
study of the concepts of 'otherness' and hybridity, Homi
Bhabha speaks of 'the heimlich pleasures of the hearth'
that is poised against 'the unheimlich terror of
the space or race of the Other'. 
Those 'who will not be contained within the Heim of
the national culture', Bhabha emphasises with an allusion
to Benedict Anderson, 'articulate the death-in-life of the
idea of the 'imagined community' of the nation'. 
The postcolonial reading of British and European classics-ranging
from a focus on Shakespeare's Caliban and Defoe's Friday
to a reassessment of the 'postcolonial Jane Austen'-has
indeed become standard practice in recent literary criticism.
In her analysis of the 'Burkean themes of migrant maternity,
disinheritance, and sexual improprieties of multinational
proportions' in early-nineteenth-century novels by women
writers, Deidre Lynch has suggested that they redeploy Burke's
tropes or themes in a more radical context by marking their
heroines as 'by and large irredeemably hybrid'. 
Lynch, however, does not proceed to explore the impact of
these alternative narratives of longing and belonging on
the writing of nostalgia and the construction of both nationalism
and nostalgic places themselves. In a recent eclectic study
of nostalgia as a cultural phenomenon, however, Svetlana
Boym significantly highlights a crucial difference between
personal nostalgia and a nostalgia that has turned political,
that has become a state policy: 'The official memory of
the nation-state does not tolerate useless nostalgia, nostalgia
for its own sake.' The
Wanderer analyses the effects of longings that have
been turned into state policies and their clashes with the
heroine's personal needs and desires, casting a different
light on both nationalism and nostalgia.
for Home: Clinical Homesickness and Romantic Melancholy
Dismissively treated as Romantic affectation, nostalgia
is a frequently misunderstood emotion and way of remembering.
As David Lowenthal has put it, nostalgia is 'a topic of
embarrassment and a term of abuse. Diatribe upon diatribe
denounces it as reactionary, repressive, ridiculous'. 
According to the OED, nostalgia has two sets of meaning:
firstly, having retained its original pathological connotation,
it is a 'form of melancholia caused by prolonged absence
from one's home or country; severe home-sickness'.Secondly,
in its transferred usage, it describes '[r]egret or sorrowful
longing for the conditions of a past age; regretful
or wistful memory or recall of an earlier time'. Romantic
representations of homesickness, homelessness, and homelands
feed on the twofold meanings of nostalgia. The history of
nostalgia, specifically its inception as a clinical term
to describe homesickness, is moreover inseparable from its
subsequent accumulation of meanings, revealing also the
origins of the most common misunderstandings about nostalgia.
'nostalgia' was coined in a medical treatise in 1688 to
describe the physical symptoms of homesickness. In his 'Dissertatio
Medica de NOSTALGIA, oder Heimwehe',
the Swiss physician Johannes Hofer analysed 'stories of
certain youths, thus afflicted, that unless they had been
brought back to the native land, whether in a fever or censured
by the 'Wasting Disease', they had met their last day on
foreign shores'. In search of a medical term for this malady,
he combined Greek nostoV
'return home' and algoV 'pain',
diagnosing nostalgia as a disease caused by 'the sad mood
originating from the desire for the return to one's native
The meaning of nostalgia as a disease and an emotion continued
to fluctuate in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In his Dissertation on the Influence of the Passions
upon Disorders of the Body (1788), William Falconer
carefully distinguished between hypochondria, melancholia,
and nostalgia, although the latter was 'said to begin with
melancholy, sadness, love of solitude'. These symptoms were
also those of love, which Falconer classified as a passion
and not a disease, highlighting the ways in which these
categories were seen to overlap. Love could result in fever,
epilepsy, or an aneurysm of the aorta. 
In his Observations on the Nature, Kinds, Causes, and
Prevention of Insanity, Lunacy, or Madness (1782), Thomas
Arnold similarly maintained that nostalgia-'[t]his unreasonable
fondness for the place of our birth'-closely resembled both
grief and love. 
In the late-eighteenth-century cult of sensibility, the
symptoms of nostalgia-as of many other physical maladies-were
redefined as praiseworthy signs of virtue and a high sensibility,
anticipating the Romantic idealisation of creative recall.
has been suggested that the concept of nostalgia as a clinical
term began to disappear in the course of the nineteenth
century, as the emotion nostalgia was increasingly divorced
from its symptomatology. 
This process, however, was not as straightforward as it
has often been presented. Immanuel Kant stressed the dependence
even of a clinical nostalgia on a time rather than on a
place as he set out to expose the patriotism of the Swiss,
who had been particularly associated with this ailment ever
since Hofer's emphasis on his countrymen's homesickness.
A return home, Kant argued, cured homesickness in that it
dispelled the illusions it had created: 'Later, when they
visit these places, they find their anticipation dampened
and even their homesickness cured. They think that everything
has drastically changed, but it is that they cannot bring
back their youth.' 
Nostalgia was conceived as a patriotic disease, while also
related to memories of the childhood home. More significantly,
even when considered a clinical condition, it was begrudgingly
admired as a sign of loyalty to a time or place. The Romantics
particularly proceeded to appropriate nostalgia in the contexts
of a new idealisation of childhood and childhood memories,
of nature and the natural, of the homeland, and also of
what has been called 'a larger state of consciousness, the
familiar mood known as Romantic melancholy', an alignment
that contributes to the persistent confusion of nostalgia
with melancholy. 
Writing the tellingly entitled poem 'Home-sick' in 1799,
Coleridge longed for the healing influence of the air of
his homeland, suggesting that homesickness was a disease
that could be cured by a return home-in short, a clinical
nostalgia-while he simultaneously treated it as a Romantic
yearning: 'Thou Breeze, that play'st on Albion's shore!'
When Wordsworth wrote that '[a]ll good poetry [.] takes
its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity', he
formulated a definition of poetic production that emphasised
the creative aspects of a specifically nostalgic way of
recalling events and emotions. 
by Romantic poetry, the fiction of the time shared its idealisation
of longing, yet also depicted pining protagonists within
a realist narrative, offering sympathetic insight into their
yearnings as well as an almost clinical description of their
symptoms. Fanny Burney's early novels exemplify this ambiguity,
anticipating the analysis of different forms of nostalgic
longings in The Wanderer. The vaguely defined illnesses
with which her heroines are afflicted conform to a pathological
interpretation of longing, even while they mark a shift
from the detailing of both love- and homesickness to a sentimental
idealisation of the home-of the childhood home and of domesticity
in general. As in a host of novels of sensibility, raving
lovesick heroines are healed by a return to or re-enactment
of safe childhood homes. Yet as they span the development
of Romantic fiction from the late eighteenth to the early
nineteenth century, it is possible to trace a shift from
lovesickness to a longing for home in the succession of
Burney's novels. The suffering of the heroine of her first
novel, Evelina (1778), stands in the tradition of
what has been called 'the sentimental love-madness vogue'
of the late eighteenth century. 
Evelina longs for Lord Orville while at home; her longing
is mapped on her body. As her belief in Lord Orville is
restored, she is cured at once: 'Lord Orville is still himself!
[.] Your happy Evelina, restored at once to spirits and
In Cecilia (1782), homelessness, combined with the
temporary loss of her lover, plunges the heroine into a
madness that can be traced back to clinical nostalgia in
its last stage as well as to lovesickness. 
In Camilla (1796), the love-interest moves into the
background as the destruction of a happy family and a physical
pining for a return home become the novel's climaxes. Camilla
resides in 'the bosom of her respectable family'; the first
chapter is entitled 'A Family Scene': 'O blissful state
of innocence, purity, and delight, why must it fleet so
fast? Why scarcely but by retrospection is its happiness
The loss of this home is the novel's central crisis. Camilla's
sickbed-reunion with her lover ends in a wedding, not a
funeral, but it is her reunion with her family that constitutes
the desired homecoming to 'primeval joy':
Camilla, whose danger was the result
of self-neglect, as her sufferings had all flowed from mental
anguish, was already able to go down to the study upon the
arrival of Mr Tyrold: where she received, with grateful
rapture, the tender blessings which welcomed her to the
paternal arms-to her home-to peace-to safety-and primeval
Wanderer takes this interest in nostalgia further by poising
the experience of homesickness against ideologies of the homeland
with their new nationalist appropriation of nostalgia. Written
against the background of the French Revolution and the Terror
and published almost two decades after Camilla, Burney's
last novel is far removed from the light-hearted parody of
fashionable society in Evelina. The Wanderer's
subtitle, 'Female Difficulties', not only promises a treatment
of proto-feminist issues, but also a focus on the peripheral
participants in historical events in the tradition of Walter
Scott that goes even further in its emphasis on the domestic
effects of historical cataclysms, leaving revolutionary France
behind very quickly to detail the difficulties experienced
by the persecuted heroine at home. The plot can admittedly
be seen as becoming submerged by references to current issues
and their underlying ideologies. The Wanderer has consequently
been described as 'not a novel at all, but a dissertation
on the inequalities of the sexes'. 
Set in the 1790s, but published only in 1814, it has moreover
been dismissed as 'a belated novel, striving to have the last
word on controversies no one cared about'. 
As a retrospective narrative, however, it significantly draws
the nationalist project of writing the past into debate. At
the same time, it recycles the collapse of radical sensibility
in the 1790s to pinpoint the impact of the resulting xenophobia
on nineteenth-century attitudes to the foreigner, to a migrant
'other' whose nostalgic memories and longings are radically
different from those fostered by the radical novels of the
1790s and from those promoted by Burkean reactions to the
Sick of and for Home: Redefinitions of Home in the Domestic
Written partly in England, partly in post-revolutionary,
war-torn France, and nearly confiscated by a police officer
at Dunkirk in August 1812, The Wanderer is the product
of warring French and British forms of nationalism and their
impact on the lives of those caught up in-between-of the 'hybrid'
Instead of detailing the horrors of Robespierre's Terror,
it briefly refers to the heroine's flight to England and then
proceeds to describe the sufferings she is subjected to in
her 'native' country. Juliet alias Ellis flees on a
boat across the channel and, her money stolen, she arrives
as an 'itinerant Incognita' (p. 208). She is both perceived
as and feels 'foreign': 'I feel myself, though in my native
country, like a helpless foreigner' (p. 214). In her exile
as an outcast at 'home', she is 'thus strangely alone-thus
friendless-thus desolate-thus mysterious' (p. 102). As a nameless,
apparently stateless, and homeless heroine, she is seen to
wander through the class-system, in which she is judged and
treated according to her changing appearance, her apparel,
and her shifting monetary and therefore societal status. The
idealised England of her imagination clearly fails to supply
the sought succour, investing Juliet's raptures on her arrival
at the English coast, when she darts 'forward with such eagerness'
(p. 22), with a bitter irony. Her wanderings only commence
in her 'native' land, become particularly poignant inside
English Great Houses, and are further conflicted when she
meets the blood relations she cannot claim while retaining
her anonymity. Returning 'home' from war-torn France offers
neither welcome nor safety.
homelessness and homesickness the Wanderer endures in her
'native' country brings the incongruities of nationalism home,
setting it in a domestic context, at the same time declaring
the homeland as an ideologically constructed concept. Gary
Kelly has stressed the duality of Romantic nationalism in
the 1790s, pointing out that while Britain was at war with
a militantly nationalist France, nationalism was also used
to block solidarity between French revolutionaries and the
Jacobins in Britain. 
In The Wanderer, personal nostalgia stands in stark
contrast to the nationalism of post-revolutionary France and
to the nationalist xenophobia in Britain. When her fellow
passengers on the boat that takes her to England discover
her confused national and social status, they unanimously
agree that Juliet 'should hasten to return whence she came'
(p. 815). Her upbringing in France additionally underscores
the indeterminacy of her national allegiances and her nostalgia
for a home. In fleeing France and a potential 'home' with
a Frenchman who has acquired power during the Terror, Juliet
also leaves her childhood home and her only protector, guardian,
and father-figure, a Catholic Bishop. Reunited with him, she
cries out in French: ' "My guardian! My preserver! My
more than father!-I have not then lost you!" ' (p. 857)
'Home' is exposed as an elusive space; and the notion of a
fixed home or place of origin as contingent at best. Juliet
becomes homesick as soon as she arrives in her 'native' land.
The place of her nostalgic desire shifts from a long forgotten
place of birth to France, the country of her childhood, her
youth, her happiness: ' "Oh hours of refined felicity
past and gone, how severe is your contrast with those of heaviness
and distaste now endured!" ' (p. 429)
shift of a nostalgic space connects The Wanderer to
a more widely read novel that similarly aligns the micro-
or domestic politics of nostalgia with imperial projects abroad-Jane
Austen's Mansfield Park, published in the same year.
Fanny Price's transference of homesickness during her exile
at home has been seen as evidence of a preoccupation with
differentiated spaces of alterity and imperial cultural productions
ever since Edward Said's influential analysis has re-inscribed
the novel within geopolitical discourses, 
as implicitly evoked anxieties of empire are seen as shedding
light on the domestic politics of imperial homemaking. Sir
Thomas's expedition to his plantations in Antigua and his
treatment of a dependent niece of course seem to invite such
readings. Even though Franco Moretti has recently suggested
that Sir Thomas goes abroad 'not because he must go there-but
because he must leave Mansfield Park', 
as his absence is crucial to the development of the plot,
imperial attitudes and absentee landlordism serve to underline
the centrality of economic relationships and homesickness
in the novel. Miss Price's loss of home and consequent nostalgia
are undeniably bound up with the economics of the estate and
even more importantly, with medical theories on the effects
of dislocation through her uncle's use of homesickness
as a 'medicinal project upon his niece's understanding'. 
Taken from her parents' overcrowded house, she has been brought
up by the self-congratulatory, pompous West Indian planter.
Not conforming to his ideas of a suitable match for her, she
is sent 'home' into exile. The confrontation with her parents'
comparative poverty is to 'teach her the value of a good income',
to 'incline her to a juster estimate of the value of that
home of greater permanence, and equal comfort, of which she
had the offer'. 
Counting on what he terms 'wholesome regrets', Sir Thomas
wishes her to be 'heartily sick of home before her visit ended'.
connection between the economics of Sir Thomas's estates in
England and the West Indies and the dependent niece's migrations
and experience of clinical nostalgia is complicated by the
elusiveness of her nostalgic ideal. The ideal home is revealed
to be discursively constituted by contrast: '[Mansfield] was
now the home. Portsmouth was Portsmouth; Mansfield was home.'
While Fanny's nostalgia turns out to be as constructive as
it is private, secretive, and isolating, the desired place
is significantly neither the home allotted to her by her birth
nor the home her chosen family would choose for her. As Marilyn
Butler has pointed out, Fanny's 'implicit alternative home'
is Everingham, Henry Crawford's fashionably improved estate.
The desired nostalgic return to Mansfield is at first not
an offered option. However, as with all of Austen's heroines,
Fanny insists on choosing her allegiances-her home as well
as her husband-herself. This rejection of communal definitions
and pressures is perhaps the most Romantic element of this
disputed Romantic domestic novel. 
It shares with The Wanderer not only its juxtaposition
of the privacy of personal nostalgia, of a longing for a specific
place rendered desirable particularly, even exclusively, to
the nostalgic individual, with a form of group pressure, but
also references to anxieties of empire that cast an additional
light on the effects of dislocation and the clash of personal
with national or communal definitions of home.
novels can be described as domestic Romantic fiction in their
emphasis on the implications and impacts of empire, nationalism,
and war at home. The Wanderer, however, engages more
emphatically with current conceptualisations of national ideologies
and allegiances. While this focus on ideology tends to submerge
the story, it singles the novel out as a Romantic novel about
nationalism that stresses its effects on the vulnerable individual-female,
hybrid, penniless, and at first disguised as a black woman-and
on domestic politics without becoming confined to two inches
of ivory. 
The Wanderer's exilic condition at 'home' as well as her nostalgia
for 'feelings of happier days' (p. 102) in France are poised
against the dramatised political reactions of the boatload
of representative Englishmen she encounters during her flight.
The presentation of the ostensibly particularly English chivalry
of which the Admiral-who is, in fact, Welsh, not English,
and later revealed as one of the Wanderer's British relatives-appears
to be so proud is almost comical: ' "You appear to be
a person of as right a way of thinking, as if you had lisped
English for your mother-tongue" ' (p. 23). The reaction
of the young men to a racially 'other', unprotected girl is
even more revealing with regard to both 'female difficulties'
and imperial race relations. Dismissive racism-' "What,
is that black insect buzzing about us still?" ' (p. 27)-is
juxtaposed with aggressive desire: ' "Poor demoiselle
[.] wants a little bleaching, to be sure; but she has not
bad eyes; nor a bad nose, neither" ' (p. 27). Harleigh's
quixotic knight-errantry is merely a different way of expressing
his sexual interest. Elinor, the self-contradictory radical
anti-heroine, comments on his 'maimed and defaced Dulcinea',
'this wandering Creole' (p. 50): If a defaced 'other'
attracts him, Elinor herself 'won't lose a moment in becoming
black, patched, and penniless' (p. 28). This 'general
persecution against such afflicted innocence' (p. 556)
exposes the insular xenophobia of British society in the aftermath
of the French Revolution. Intriguingly, the reactions to the
Revolution are depicted from the point of view of an unclassified
exile, whose disguise as a 'native' additionally invokes the
incongruities and injustices of both French and British imperial
and the Native Enemy: The Elusiveness of Romantic 'Natives'
Much has been made of Juliet's disguise as 'a francophone
African', which can be seen as an arraignment of French and
British colonial enterprises, and her escape from marriage
to one of Robespierre's commissaries. 
Alternately a spectacle and a scapegoat, this object of charity,
suspicions, and sexual desire is exploited for self-serving
purposes and has to engage all her powers of resistance 'in
refusing to be stared at like a wild beast' (p. 54).
It is significantly Elinor's 'spirit of contradiction' that
fixes 'her design of supporting the stranger' and 'whom she
exulted in thus exclusively possessing, as a hidden curiosity'
(p. 55). Elinor's strategic display of this exotic curiosity
in her own pseudo-liberal revolutionary agenda turns out to
be more damaging than the xenophobia of the narrow-minded,
largely ignorant, defenders of propriety. The representation
of the native 'other' in the novel is, in fact, deeply ambiguous
and conflicted. It has been suggested that blackness serves
as a metaphor that connects the heroine's plight to that of
slaves, but also that this alterity is altered through what
Sara Salih has termed an 'epidermic transformation', which
converts the unfathomable other into a reassuringly native
Claudia Johnson has pointed out an additional ambivalence
in the treatment of 'the homologous inflections of race, class,
and gender'. 
The suggested solidarity with the racially oppressed, from
which radical criticism might emerge, is undermined by the
ridicule of Mrs Ireton's slave Mungo, whose status is lower
than that of an Incognita who is not 'really' black. 
Juliet, in fact, undergoes various forms of 'enslavement',
whereby her change of skin colour can be seen as subverting
criticism of racial subjugation by reducing the function of
slavery in the novel to a metaphor. This use includes descriptions
of the ordeal Juliet undergoes as Mrs Ireton's 'humble companion'
and of her attempts to earn her living as an exploited music-teacher
or in the confinement of a milliner's shop as well as her
escape from the 'bonds' of matrimony. The metaphorical connection
between enforced marriages and slavery is overtly, even bluntly,
put. Juliet flees from a wife's place in her husband's home-a
state she describes as the life of 'a bond-woman' (p. 848),
'destined to exile, slavery, and misery' (p. 863). The
themes of confused national identities and the search for
home, however, permeate this engagement with metaphorical
subjection, eventually letting discourses of racial and national
Wanderer's shifting status is pinpointed by the multivalent
deployment of the word 'native' in the text. At first disguised
as a 'native' dislocated from an undefined 'native' land by
French imperial politics-and the issues of miscegenation are
implied in the discussion of her assumed origins-she employs
a camouflage of being at once a 'native' and a racial 'other',
while attempting to reach her 'long lost, and fearfully recovered
native land' (p. 751), her place of birth, which then
turns out to be simply another-an 'other'-place of persecution,
which makes her long for her lost home abroad. Both the native
as a noble savage and the 'wanderer'-and Juliet is at one
point compared to the 'wandering Jew' (p. 429)-are Romantic
figures, reasserting and further contributing to the novel's
exploration of the Romantic concepts of the 'native' and the
'other'. In questioning the ideals of the natural and the
innate, Burney's text plays with the meanings of the word
'native'. Considered as French by the English, the Wanderer
is termed their 'native enemy' (p. 25), while she is
described as upholding her 'native dignity' (p. 51).
It is one of the book's incongruities that while the suppression
sanctioned by class-systems is exposed, innate nobility stands
nonetheless affirmed. Juliet shares this aristocratic superiority
with the similarly exiled Gabriella, her 'earliest friend,
the chosen sharer of her happier days [.], restored to her
in the hour of her desolation' (p. 395). This foreigner
is Juliet's only acknowledged connection in her so-called
'native' land. Both have been 'driven, without offence, or
even accusation, from prosperity and honours, to exile' (p. 390).
The wandering of the two young ladies-brought up together,
but one born in England and one in France-at once centralises
and displaces the significance of their origins by representing
their experience of exile and nostalgia for a home elsewhere
parallel predicaments render Juliet's questionable Englishness
a mere coincidence, while the characteristics that mark her
as 'foreign' or 'other' indicate the indeterminacy of such
categories as English- or Britishness. In particular her accent
is considered as undermining her nationality, even though
her direct speech is interestingly presented in immaculate
'standard' English, as opposed to the various sociolects in
the novel. Having been brought up in France, Juliet has 'acquired
something of a foreign accent' (p. 643). While her 'epidermic
transformation' externalises the indeterminacy of her status
as a 'native other', her accent and attire are the skin-deep
categories that deny her the status of a native of England.
Accents as marks of ambiguous nationhood significantly recur
in the fiction of the time. For the boorish Hughson in Montalbert
(1795), a novel of sensibility by the prolific late-eighteenth-century
novelist Charlotte Smith, for example, Montalbert's accent
obscures, even denies, his Englishness: ' "Why, you can't
speak much now, Sir. [.] I suppose by your accent, Sir, that
you are a foreigner." ' 
The Wanderer 'understands English on and off at her pleasure'
(p. 16), but her use of assumed and camouflaged 'otherness'
is not meant as a social imposture-unlike Madame Duval's deliberate
masking of her lower-class background by a French accent in
Evelina-but as a means of survival. 
Frances Burney's fiction and increasingly in her later novels,
family ties stretch across national borders. Madame Duval's
false Frenchness exemplifies Burney's early and primarily
comical use of French characters. In the wake of the French
Revolution and specifically after Britain's declaration of
war, representations of the French expectedly become more
conflicted. In The Wanderer, Juliet's parenthood may
be purely British-involving only 'transgressions' across class-boundaries-but
she has nonetheless two families for whose re-integration
she longs. As Deirdre Lynch has succinctly put it, she remains
'irredeemably hybrid'. 
Her 'adoptive' family comprises an imprisoned Bishop, his
sister, and her unhappily married daughter, who mourns for
her dead child and bewails her exile. The head of Juliet's
English family as good as refuses to acknowledge the relation,
and her anonymous encounter with her half-brother is fraught
with the possibilities of incestuous rape. Eventually, Lady
Aurora and Lord Melbury happily acknowledge the half-sister
whose identity, legitimacy, and worth-in a monetary as well
as moral sense-have been proved. These two paragons of noble
sensibility form the ideal familial community of her nostalgic
imagination, evoking 'all her tenderest affections' (p. 754).
Her connections allow her to receive the offer of marriage
she longs for, ending her wandering in a familial community.
the Wanderer's search for home amidst contending nationalisms
seems in part to enact the rhetoric of Edmund Burke's influential
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), the
mixed nationalities of her families effectively dismantle
such nationalist alignments. Burke extols ideological strategies
to give the 'frame of polity the image of a relation in blood'
binding up the constitution of our country
with our dearest domestic ties, adopting our fundamental
laws into the bosom of our family affections, keeping inseparable
and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and
mutually reflected charities our state, our hearths, our
sepulchres, and our altars. [56
The Wanderer's hybridity subverts this
fiction of a nation of relations. Instead, the novel ends
with the realisation of a domestic alternative, at once
evading and transcending nationalist ideologies of the homeland.
of and reactions to the Reflections recur in fictional
and non-fictional texts of the 1790s, as Burke's idealisation
of the aristocracy and reverence for buildings that symbolise
established institutions-and Burke even describes the Bastille
as a venerable castle-complicate the functions of nostalgia
and the picturesque in British novels that endorse a radical
sensibility. Wollstonecraft expresses a radical rejection
of Burkean nostalgia when she questions the point of restoring
old buildings: '[W]hy was it a duty to repair an ancient
castle, built in barbarous ages, of Gothic materials?' 
Charlotte Smith's self-avowedly pro-revolutionary novel
Desmond (1792) is more ambiguous in its representation
of the needs of revolution and, more emphatically, reform,
yet its rejection of Burkean sentiments remains clear-cut.
Writing home from France, the titular hero exposes the 'malignant
fabrications' that are circulated in England. 
Burkean rhetoric is denounced in a stylistic parody as sublime
as Burke's own eloquence:
I will not enter into a discussion of
it, though the virulence, as well as the misrepresentation
with which it abounds, lays it alike open to ridicule and
contradiction. [.] I foresee that a thousand pens will leap
from their standishes (to parody a sublime sentence of his
own) to answer such a book. [59
Burney's retrospective novel is necessarily
far removed from such radical endorsements of a revolutionary
agenda. The excesses of a British-off-stage, as it were-appreciation
of the French Revolution are, in fact, embodied, and to
an extent parodied, in the character of Elinor, a proto-feminist,
pro-revolutionary, suicidal atheist who is shown to proclaim
her ideological leanings primarily out of a 'spirit of contradiction'
(p. 55). Various critics have considered Elinor the
result of a misreading of Wollstonecraft. Julia Epstein
calls her Juliet's 'protofeminist revolutionary alter ego',
whose suicide attempt rescues the heroine 'just as Bertha
Mason would later rescue Jane Eyre'. 
While the novel treats the migrant's difficulties with sympathy
and indignation, Elinor is, in fact, deeply tainted by her
eccentric and, it is emphasised, inherently selfish appropriation
of such sympathies with the suppressed. It is this twist
that complicates an anti-Jacobin reading, singling out the
novel as a significantly and intriguingly ambiguous treatment
of the repercussions of nationalist and radical ideologies
and particularly their use and abuse of sympathies with
the homeless as well as of nostalgia for a home.
Frances Burney's last novel reacts against the concept of
a British nationalist counter-ideology to the expansionist
French nationalism, it takes the domestic novel into the
realm of a more politically conscious genre without lapsing
into the openly proclaimed agenda of nationalist literature.
Romantic nationalism as founded on a shared culture is instead
shown to clash with a personal past; the xenophobia nurtured
by Jacobin as well as anti-Jacobin ideologies with the heroine's
hybridity; and a manufactured nationalist heritage nostalgia
with homesickness. The liberal, even radical, attitudes
underlying the representation of a woman pursued by her
husband, of the racism directed against a (seemingly) black
refugee, and the treatment of an employee or hired companion,
however, are undercut by the exposure of the anti-heroine's
false liberality and eventual breakdown. The heroine herself
is not only safely married, but revealed to be white, legitimate,
and a member of the British upper classes after all. Nonetheless,
The Wanderer provides an alternative to both pro-revolutionary
novels of a radical sensibility and to anti-Jacobin, Burkean,
reactions, offering an exploration of the impact of imperialist
and nationalist economies and ideologies at home without
becoming merely a domestic novel confined to the representation
of a small stratum of society. As such, it sheds a different
light on the heterogeneity of Romantic fiction and the writing
of the French Revolution.
Burney, The Wanderer, or Female Difficulties, edd. Margaret
Anne Doody, et al. (Oxford: OUP, 1991), p. 751. Further
references to this text are from this edition and will be included
parenthetically in the essay.
much-disputed term, 'pre-Romantic' (or 'preromantic') has been
revived by Marshall Brown in Preromanticism (Stanford:
Stanford University Press, 1991). Suggesting that the prefix
should be understood 'in its differentiating sense', Brown emphasises
that 'preromantic' could be used to refer to the period preceding
Romanticism 'precisely because it was not yet romantic'
(p. 2). More recently, Jennifer Keith has reassessed the
influence of Northrop Frye, who initiated a still prevalent
label-the 'Age of Sensibility'-in an important essay first published
in 1956, and of Brown's resuscitation of pre-Romanticism. Keith
stresses the importance of freeing the pre-Romantics 'from merely
anticipating the Romantics', while appreciating what the Romantics
learned from them-' "Pre-Romanticism" and the Ends of Eighteenth-Century
Poetry', in The Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century
Poetry, ed. John Sitter (Cambridge: CUP, 2001), p. 286.
Cf. Northrop Frye, Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic
Mythology (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963),
pp. 130-37. I use the term 'pre-Romantic' to refer to late-eighteenth-century
novels, not simply as an alternative to calling them 'novels
of sensibility', but as an umbrella term that encompasses the
Gothic novel and the early national tale as well. These novels
anticipate full-blown Romantic fiction both in time and in experimenting
with the themes, topoi, and styles that came to be associated
particularly with the Romantic age. As Brown has put it, '[i]n
many cases, the preromantics fashioned empty vessels that only
their successors were able to fill' (p. 7).
Scott, Waverley (1814; Edinburgh: Adam & Charles
Black, 1870), p. 153.
Edgeworth, The Absentee, edd. W. J. McCormack and Kim
Walker (Oxford: OUP, 1988), pp. 81 and 80.
Morgan (Sydney Owenson), The Wild Irish Girl, introd.
Bridgid Brophy (London: Pandora, 1986), p. 172.
Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin
and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), passim.
Chris Jones, Radical Sensibility: Literature and Ideas
in the 1790s (London: Routledge, 1993), passim.
Ibid., p. 13.
Thomas Nipperdey, 'In Search of Identity: Romantic Nationalism,
its Intellectual, Political and Social Background', in Romantic
Nationalism in Europe, ed. J. C. Eade (Canberra: Australian
National University Press, 1983), pp. 10-15.
Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (London: Peregrine
Books, 1963), pp. 23 and 14.
Kelly, English Fiction of the Romantic Period 1789-1830
(London: Longman, 1989), p. 43.
Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East (Cambridge:
CUP, 1992), p. 20.
Janet Sorensen, 'Writing Historically, Speaking Nostalgically:
The Competing Languages of Nation in Scott's The Bride of
Lammermoor', in Narratives of Nostalgia, Gender and Nationalism,
edd. Jean Pickering and Suzanne Kehde (London: Macmillan, 1997),
K. Bhabha (ed.), Nation and Narration (London: Routledge,
1990), p. 2.
You-me Park and Rajeswari Sunder Rajan (eds), The Postcolonial
Jane Austen (London: Routledge, 2000).
Lynch, 'Domesticating Fictions and Nationalising Women: Edmund
Burke, Property, and the Reproduction of Englishness', in Romanticism,
Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780-1830, edd. Alan Richardson
and Sonia Hofkosh (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996),
Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic
Books, 2001), p. 14.
Lowenthal, 'Nostalgia Tells It Like It Wasn't', in The Imagined
Past: History and Nostalgia, edd. Christopher Shaw and Malcolm
Chase (Manchester: MUP, 1989), p. 20.
Hofer, 'Medical Dissertation on Nostalgia by Johannes Hofer,
1688', trans. Carolyn Kiser Anspach, Bulletin of the Institute
of the History of Medicine 2 (1934), 380-81.
William Falconer, A Dissertation on the Influence of
the Passions upon Disorders of the Body (London, 1796),
pp. 155-56 and 45.
Thomas Arnold, Observations on the Nature, Kinds, Causes,
and Prevention of Insanity, Lunacy, or Madness (London,
1782), pp. 265-66.
See J. Starobinski, 'The Idea of Nostalgia', trans. W. S.
Kemp, Diogenes 54 (1966), 81-103. But see also George
Rosen, 'Nostalgia: A "Forgotten" Psychological Disorder', Clio
Medica 10 (1975), 29-51. In Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia,
Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870 (Oxford: OUP,
2001), Nicholas Dames similarly suggests that when nostalgia
was 'debunked' as a disease, it also '[lost] its dignity as
a mode of memory' (p. 47). Boym disputes this concept of
nostalgia's loss of its pathological aspect. Quite the reverse,
the Romantic age saw 'its transformation from a curable disease
into an incurable condition' (p. xviii). In Nostalgia
and Recollection in Victorian Culture (London: Macmillan,
1998), Ann C. Colley moreover suggests that while the Victorian
painters and writers whose works she analyses 'would not have
been considered clinically nostalgic by their contemporaries
[.], they in some way, mirror the case studies described by
physicians' (p. 3).
Immanuel Kant, Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point
of View, trans. Victor Lyle Dowdell (Carbondale: Southern
Illinois University Press, 1978), p. 60.
Ibid., p. 69.
Jay Clayton, Romantic Vision and the Novel (Cambridge:
CUP, 1987), pp. 60-61 and 70.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Poetical Works (Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 2001), ll. 15-16.
William Wordworth, Lyrical Ballads (Bristol, 1800),
Helen Small, Love's Madness: Medicine, the Novel, and
Female Insanity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 90.
Frances Burney, Evelina, ed. Harold Bloom (1778;
New York: Chelsea House, 1988), p. 278.
Frances Burney, Cecilia, edd. Peter Sabor and Margaret
Anne Doody (1782; Oxford: OUP, 1988).
Frances Burney, Camilla, edd. Edward A. and Lillian
D. Bloom (1796; London: OUP, 1972), pp. 8 and 13.
Ibid., p. 855.
Tracy Edgar Daugherty, Narrative Techniques in the
Novels of Fanny Burney (New York: Peter Lang, 1989), pp. 164-65.
Claudia L. Johnson, Equivocal Beings: Politics, Gender,
and Sentimentality in the 1790s (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1995), p. 167.
Cf. Margaret Anne Doody, Frances Burney: The Life in
the Works (Cambridge: CUP, 1988), pp. 313-16; Kate
Chisholm, Fanny Burney: Her Life 1752-1840 (London: Chatto
& Windus, 1998), p. 220.
Kelly, pp. 15-16.
Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Chatto
& Windus, 1993), p. 73. Cf. Susan Fraiman, 'Jane Austen
and Edward Said: Gender, Culture, and Imperialism', Critical
Inquiry 21 (1995), 805-21.
Franco Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900
(London: Verso, 1999), p. 27.
Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. R. W. Chapman
(1814; London: OUP, 1953), p. 369.
Ibid., p. 369.
Ibid. pp. 366 and 369.
Ibid., p. 431.
Marilyn Butler, Jane Austen and the War of Ideas
(1975; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 241.
On its disputed status as a Romantic novel cf. Clayton,
pp. 60-61 and 70. Kelly speaks of Austen's 'paradoxical
status as a Romantic novelist' (p. 111). Clara Tuite's
recent study, Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary
Canon (Cambridge: CUP, 2002), however, considers the Austen
novel as 'a specifically Romantic form of cultural production'
In Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British
Empire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), Katie
Trumpener has suggested that the much disputed allusion to the
slave-trade in Mansfield Park should be seen as 'politically
hard-hitting rather than evasive, a moment at which Austen's
reader will know to fill in contemporary debates about abolition'
Sara Salih, ' "Her Blacks, her Whites and her Double
Face": Altering Alterity in The Wanderer', Eighteenth-Century
Fiction 11 (1999), 301.
Ibid., p. 307.
Charlotte Smith, Montalbert (London: S. Low, 1795),
In Charlotte Smith's first novel, Emmeline (1788),
by contrast, Frenchified manners and affected accents are simply
ridiculed. 'Something of a coxcomb' (p. 363), the self-elected
Frenchman Bellozane indulges in displays of 'excessive vanity'
(p. 381) and 'the volatility of his adopted country' (p. 499).
See Charlotte Smith, Emmeline: The Orphan of the Castle (London:
Pandora, 1987). See Doody on false nationalities in Evelina
Lynch, p. 59.
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
(1790; London: Penguin, 1986), p. 120.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Political Writings, ed. Janet
Todd (Oxford: OUP, 1994), p. 41.
Charlotte Smith, Desmond, edd. Antje Blank and
Janet Todd (1792; London: Pickering & Chatto, 1997), p. 52.
Ibid., p. 155.
Julia Epstein, 'Marginality in Frances Burney's novels',
The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel,
ed. John Richetti (Cambridge: CUP, 1996), p. 208. Johnson
similarly suggests that 'The Wanderer refutes Wollstonecraft
as Burney stunningly misreads her' (p. 145). Compare Justine
Crump, ' "Turning the World Upside Down": Madness, Moral
Management, and Frances Burney's The Wanderer', Eighteenth-Century
Fiction 10 (1998), 325-40. See also Claire Harman's Fanny
Burney: A Biography (London: HarperCollins, 2000) on Harleigh's
intellectually spineless pleadings with Elinor (pp. 324-27).
This article is copyright © 2003 Centre for
Editorial and Intertextual Research, and is the result of the
independent labour of the scholar or scholars credited with
authorship. The material contained in this document
may be freely distributed, as long as the origin of information
used has been properly credited in the appropriate manner (e.g.
through bibliographic citation, etc.).
Referring to this
T. S. WAGNER. 'Nostalgia for Home or Homelands: Romantic
Nationalism and the Indeterminate Narrative in Frances Burney's
The Wanderer', Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic
Text 10 (June 2003). Online: Internet (date accessed): <http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/articles/cc10_n03.html>.
Tamara S. Wagner is a Junior Fellow at the National University
of Singapore. She has published articles on nostalgia, occidentalism,
and nineteenth-century ideals of masculinity and has contributed
essays to the Victorian and the Postcolonial Web Projects. She
is currently completing her first monograph, Longing: Narratives
of Nostalgia in the British Novel, 1740-1890, which draws
on her doctoral research at the University of Cambridge. Her
latest projects include a study of colonial and postcolonial
representations of the Straits Settlements and a study of Jane
Austen's niece, the Victorian novelist Catherine Hubback. A
book chapter on sequels to Austen's novels is forthcoming.
25 January, 2006
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