Historically, nostalgia has a bad name. But what might an oppositional, regenerative nostalgia look like? In this article, it takes the form of a “nostalgia for the future,” a temporally-misoriented concept that is both a nostalgia for that which has yet to happen but feels as though it already has, and a nostalgia utilized for future revolutionary gain, a phenomenon best exemplified by Doris Lessing’s Martha Quest (1952). Nostalgia is often thought to begin at home, with a deep longing to return to an originary plenitude, but for white African settlers like the Quests, where is home? When living in self-exile with only a provisional dwelling, what is nostalgia’s object? Martha, unsettled by waves of nostalgia, uses her nostalgia to envision a homeland for black and white alike, a utopic golden city on the horizon that may have been and may yet be. Lessing returns to nostalgia’s past and remedicalizes the term to produce a “home-sickness,” waves of nostalgia set free from their traditional objects that thereby create a melancholy and despondency that rob one of presence and selfhood. In order to achieve her vision, Martha must overcome her home-sickness and wield her nostalgia so as to overpower racism and anti-Semitism.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 75-99
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.