Medievalism, Nationalism, Colonialism: Introduction

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Ada Cambridge's description of 'The Chase', the imposing Norfolk seat of the Desailly family, in her 1897 novella 'At Midnight', captures in a single architectural image the contradictory attractions of the medieval for her colonial Australian characters. On the one hand, the ancient materials and heraldic remnants in its great hall are 'authentic', 'historic', and 'genuinely mediaeval', offering 'indisputable' testament to the noble family's ancestral rights of ownership. On the other hand, for Nettie Wingate, the story's Australian heroine, 'The Chase"s attraction is overwhelmingly atmospheric and evocative, inviting aesthetic rather than historical appreciation. Its medieval banners are 'beautifully delapidated', adding to the 'fine, solemn, feudal air about the place' - an air which, enhanced by its wooded park, evokes for Nettie 'the England ofher romantic dreams' (3-4).

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Published 1 October 2011 in Volume 26 No. 3-4. Subjects: Colonialism & imperialism, Medievalism, Nationalism.

Cite as: D'Arcens, Louise and Andrew Lynch and Stephanie Trigg. ‘Medievalism, Nationalism, Colonialism: Introduction.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 26, no. 3-4 - , 2011, doi: 10.20314/als.98bbe13c63.