This introduction raises the questions of identity, knowledge, and mythologizing which are central to representations of gypsies in the Romantic period. It offers an overview of relevant recent scholarship, and in particular draws attention to studies of German “gypsy Romanticism” (Zigeunerromantik), moving from this critical basis to suggest that the expectations we might have of representations of gypsies in English Romantic texts are repeatedly thwarted. The introduction briefly discusses the popular, iconic gypsy figure of Walter Scott’s Meg Merrilies, but also emphasizes that Meg is, specifically and vitally within the context of Scott’s Guy Mannering, Scottish, and that the English situation on which this book focuses sustains significant differences from the Scottish context which is formative of Scott’s Meg.
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