Childhood Nostalgia

The term nostalgia was coined by a doctor, Johannes Hofer, in a medical dissertation from 1688, to define a recurrent ailment of Swiss mercenaries, who were afflicted with a pathological longing for their native mountainscapes and homely fare as they were stationed abroad. While medical discourse thus defined nostalgia as a pathological fixation on a place that one was forced to leave behind, the Romantic poets reinvented nostalgia by transferring it from a medical to an aesthetic context, redefining it as an elegiac desire for the child one once was. Rather than a longing for a particular type of place, it now became a desire for a particular time. Moreover, nostalgic longing was divested of its pathological connotations, as the Romantics linked the nostalgic project ...

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