In his assessment, it was because “the Frenchman loves the domestic hearth …
A joint-stock company would front two million francs so the state could build replica French villages to remake this colonial frontier into something familiar. As Dodman explains in , published earlier this year, similar proposals involving “Normands, Corréziens, Limousins, Savoyards”—other French rural communities—were brought forward as potential strategic solutions to France’s colonial quagmire.
But people from remote areas had, since the days of the Swiss cowbells, been considered particularly susceptible to nostalgia, yearning for the familiar monotony of village life.
For all the suffering, the nostalgic did not even necessarily want to get better.
“True nostalgics,” wrote Roth, “derived their only satisfaction from the symptoms of their disease and therefore strove to protect their longing, to concentrate all their energies on it.” One 19th-century medical journal, quoted by Roth, noted that the nostalgic “seeks solitude, during which he can caress his favorite chimera without any obstacle and feed his pain …” Given the severity of the disease, nostalgia was considered a military threat of the highest order.