|British Comparative Literature Association
Ninth International Conference
23-26 July 2001
A Social Psychological Study of the Theme of Avarice in Al-Jahiz's Book of Misers
Al-Jahiz presents, in this work, a wealth of anecdotes featuring misers as distinct social types sharing common traits, sentiments and behavioural patterns. In this context, useful comparisons can be made with Molière's L'Avare (The Miser) and Plautus's The Pot of Gold. In the introduction to his book, Al-Jahiz points out that it might perhaps serve a useful purpose in exposing misers and leading them to mend their ways. In exposing them, Al-Jahiz is characteristically always at pains to dissect their personalities carefully, revealing the social and psychological motives that guide the intricate workings of their minds. He uses avarice as a medium to carry out an investigation into the interaction of sociological and psychological factors that determine their behaviour, employing various stylistic devices such as caricature, hyperbole, and descriptive minutiae. He also deploys a large number of synonyms and euphemisms for avarice with a view to reflecting precisely the various facets of misers' peculiar social sentiments and psychological motives.
Cletto Arrighi's 1880 novel Nanà a Milano, which transplants Zola's courtesan to the 'moral capital' of post-unification Italy, has traditionally been dismissed as a sensationalist production owing more to the feuilletons of Eugène Sue than to the Naturalist project. This paper argues, conversely, that it illuminates ideological tensions which condition the reception of French Naturalism in the major writers of Italian verismo. Studied alongside other fictional representations of prostitution in France (Dumas fils, Murger, Huysmans, E. de Goncourt) and Italy (Verga, Valera, Ferretti Viola), it reveals a conflict between positivist sociology and a bohemian socialism, between images of the prostitute as creature of milieu and/or heredity and as a sacrificial victim of the bourgeoisie and natural ally of the artist.
People who have power often enjoy pretending that they are powerless. One enduring experience of make-believe powerlessness among the dominant classes in Western cultures is the practice of impersonating the poor in their own milieu. Pretending to be poor is a pleasure that is always careful to have a 'serious', disinterested, unpleasurable, even antipleasure alibi. So highly enjoyable is this experience, however, that whiffs of the pleasure cannot help but seep out, and narratives recounting it encode and are greeted with an uneasy combination of desire and (self-)repudiation. This paper seeks to historicise and deconstruct both this dominant-class pleasure of simulated poverty and its repudiation by reading them through three nineteenth-century cross-class passing narratives: Eugène Sue's Les Mystères de Paris (1843), Walter Besant's All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882) and Henry James' The Princess Casamassima (1886).
The association of the heart with value, figuratively and literally, is longstanding, but Victorian anxieties about the financial basis of marriage, sex and love give it new relevance. Given the exalted status accorded to love and feeling in Victorian discourses of marriage, the suggestion that pre-marital love was dependent less on the hearts than on the purses of the lovers was deeply threatening. This paper discusses how Victorian women poets, including Maria Jewsbury, L.E.L., Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Adelaide Proctor, play with the notion of coining or selling the heart in love, encoding its value in monetary terms as a bitter commentary on contemporary norms. Poetic words of love become currency, and the heart becomes a commodity, as it was in the popular Valentines and heart-shaped artifacts of the period. Moreover, Victorian poetry (especially by women) was firmly linked with writing from the heart, and love poetry had considerable market value. 'Mining' the heart for deep feelings thus literally produces gold, whether in the form of a successful marriage, or of payment for a poem, but in doing so it compromises the notions of love and poetry to which these writers were expected to adhere.
The evolving role of money is reflected in the changing literary evocation of luxury and corruption, from the rococo of Pope (The Rape of the Lock), Voltaire (Le Mondain), and Parini (Il Giorno), combining various modes of celebration and irony, to the Romantic Realism of Dickens (Great Expectations) and Balzac (La Cousine Bette), where the social satire is more direct. The complexity of this theme lends itself to analysis by means of chaos and complexity theory. In spite of his praise of luxury in Le Mondain and Défense du Mondain, Voltaire also denounced greed and colonial exploitation as in Candide, where he has the mutilated black man say: 'C'est à ce prix que vous mangez du sucre en Europe'. This horrific cause of a trivial effect is an example of nonlinearity (disproportion between cause and effect). More commonly, nonlinearity is represented by the Butterfly Effect (sensitive dependence on initial conditions), which is manifested in Great Expectations by the dramatic effect of the encounter between Pip and Magwitch, or in La Cousine Bette, by the tragic effect on a high official of the corrupting sight of a beautiful courtesan.
This paper argues that the inauthentic is an essential aspect of historical modernism, and establishes the terms of a continuing debate regarding the real. Contra Rosalind Krauss, who argues that postmodernism is unique in overtly addressing the copy, whereas modernism was fixed on the stable gold standard of the authentic - repressing, in her words, the discourse of the copy - it engages forgery and imitations within a current of modernism that includes Georg Simmel, Gabriel Tarde, and Wyndham Lewis. This counterfeit modernism is found in texts that assemble bodies made to imitate but not to feel - that is, which lack the 'authenticity' of character - and narratives that premise the workings of plot on seriality, repetition, and interchangeability. Here, fakery functions at both metaphorical and literal levels. The former operates in the realm of narrative and bodily construction, and within privileged sites such as the representations of forged artworks, the trope of doubles, stand-ins and automata; the latter involves the representation of money as such, but positioned in such a way as to emphasise the wobble between its status as object and function as capital. Counterfeit modernism arises from and circulates through a set of historical and philosophical conditions, even as its aesthetic effects remain, at a literal and metaphorical level, an issue of currency.
The notion of money underlies many of Coetzee's novels openly dealing with Apartheid South Africa. This paper focuses on In the Heart of the Country (1977) in which, for the first time, the notions of money and exchange undergo interesting transformations: whereas in the first part of the text 'money' is the concrete result of work or sexual favours, after the protagonist's father dies, the roles of master and servant get reversed and 'money' (together with sex, work and everything else in the text) becomes a means through which the main character tries to obtain 'communication' (understood as an exchange of words). The paper emphasises how the notion of economic exchange is replaced by the notion of communicative exchange, language finally becoming a metaphor for money. Other texts by Coetzee are referred to briefly, to understand to what extent the notion of exchange (whether economic or linguistic) determines the lives of his characters, concentrating in particular on The Master of Petersburg, in which Coetzee seems to suggest that the two notions of exchange are brought together in the figure of the writer.
From an original impulse to settle matters of meaning in relation to private criteria of self-evidence and individual sensation, Locke increasingly adopted a more public standard for adjudicating disputes. Enthusiasm, a topic he eventually addressed in the fourth edition of the Essay (1700), constituted a problem in which private persuasion was no longer tenable and had to give way to shared public standards of reason and textual authority. If the ground of assent gradually changed in this case, the intervening factor may have been Locke's encounter with the dilemmas posed by currency questions in which the state was confronted by the choice of regulating itself internally and opting for a devaluation, or conceding the immutability of a standard defended by external forces. In both realms he adopted a similar conclusion: '...'tis not the strength of our own Perswasions which can by it self give it that Stamp'.
Laetitia Pilkington became an intimate friend of Jonathan Swift in the 1730s. He was a celebrity and she was an aspiring but unpublished poet. In her Memoirs (1748-51) she drew on her intimate knowledge of Swift, packaging anecdotes and recollections of his conversation along with her own unpublished verse. A divorcee, she made commercial use of scandal and notoriety. She exploited the association of female body and female-authored text: it is not clear if she sold her body, but she sold the idea of selling her body in order to sell her words. The female voice in Pilkington's Memoirs speaks about money as well as sex; it participates in that wider commodification of the female self that was to see the huge popularity of fictional protagonists like Pamela and Clarissa. Arguably, the subject that became unspeakable as the century wore on was money, not sex, and it was the unspeakability of money (combined with the speakability of sex) that most hampered female authorship in the period.
This paper attempts to draw together economic discourses about the fictional value of 'promises to pay' (the Bullion Controversy) and a fictional narrative about the economic value of 'promises to say': Fanny Burney's The Wanderer (1814). The main focus is on the construction of credit both in the novel and in the discussions on paper money and public confidence that took off afresh in the restriction period (1797-1821), when the pamphlet war on the currency question was at its most intense. In The Wanderer the question of credit is openly addressed as the narrative legitimises the heroine's demand for 'implicit credit' by encouraging the reader to tolerate indefiniteness and uncertainties, or in other words to credit the implicit. The story of the 'Incognita' is constructed as a narrative of trust in which the creditability of the heroine is established as a function of her secrecy, just as her fictional creditability is established as a function of a promise to say (to reveal the 'facts' about her name and birth) suspended until the end.
Harriet Martineau, in Berkeley the Banker (1833), and Benjamin Disraeli, in Vivian Grey (1827), rendered the financial panic and bank crisis of 1825-6 into fiction. This paper examines the novels' depictions of the role of trust in personal and financial speculations, and the function of marriage, its obligations and debts, in resolving speculative and narrative uncertainty in the texts. In contrast to the relatively cursory examinations of manias, panics and crises in contemporary theories of political economy, the novels touch upon moral and religious arguments on the function of speculators and speculative investments, and the role of institutions such as marriage and the family, country banks, currency and paper money in regulating risk and uncertainty in commercial society. It also considers the autobiographical elements of the novels, which Martineau and Disraeli wrote in consequence of the burden of their own heavy personal and family debts incurred during the crash. It gauges the extent to which the novels are successful in 'banishing panic', steadying the nerves of middle-class readers by offering visions of social stability and order, and making the enduring and endurable presence of uncertainty bearable by analysing, explaining, predicting and therefore expunging it.
This paper explores the significance of the crystal centre of the counterfeit coin in Gide's The Counterfeiters (1925). Deleuze argues that an important feature of the crystal image is the indiscernibility between the actual and the virtual. This paper uses the concept to demonstrate that the coin becomes doubly counterfeit if the crystal is perceived to be paste. This had implications for Goux's reading of Gide, whereby a correlation is made between the 'degradation' of the crystal and the removal of the gold standard, the introduction of abstract money, and Cubism.
Studies of money and literature stress representation: money is a kind of language. While they agree that money is representational in form, economists point out that monetary value has less to do with media than with quantity. This leads to a fundamental question. If cheaper money issued in greater amounts means less value but more commerce, do we limit it according to the supply of 'real money' in the market or do we allow the market to demand as much and as many forms of credit as it needs? These questions were first formulated during the 'bullion debates' on the Bank of England's restriction of gold payments between 1797 and 1821. This paper examines Coleridge's contributions to these debates, a series of editorials entitled 'The Bullion Controversy'. While approving of Government policy of issuing paper according to commercial demand, Coleridge argued that the success of the money system requires critical diligence on the part of every participant in the economy. That is, Coleridge's idea of imagination is itself a mode of 'restriction'. Developed in conjunction with his literary theory of the symbol, Coleridge's remarks reveal a firmly economic foundation for British Romanticism.
Gambling is a universal phenomenon but also deeply culture-specific. This paper examines gambling as an organising trope in some modern Chinese and Indian works of fiction. These novels focus on the notion of chance as an epistemological vantage point from which to understand the unpredictabilities of life. Gambling has existed in China for 4000 years, in India for 3000; however, the nature, significance and modes of textuality of gambling have changed. Gambling is imbricated with the issues of fatalism, chance, risk, pathology, sociability, rational choice, irrational hopes and cultural values. These point to the contradictory demands of gambling as social vice and leisure activity. Drawing on the concepts of signification, power and everydayness as formulated by Barthes, Foucault and de Certeau, this paper considers gambling as a form of cultural expression and assesses the similarities and differences inscribed in the texts from China and India.
Thoreau's Walden, which begins with a chapter covering a quarter of the book entitled 'Economy', is strewn with puns (scatological and otherwise) which relate the theme of economics to that of the economy of the body. Refusing traditional transactions with money as an intermediary, Walden's narrator suggests many imaginative remedies of his own, but it is when it comes to comparing his 'economic and dietetic point of view' that he touches upon the core of his reasoning. His economic operations in dollar terms in the first chapter are worked up to reach a climax in the last (entitled 'Spring'), where 'Nature's operations' through the thawing process provide 'liquidity', a 'liquidity' intermingled with the breaking down of language to its pristine state of organic radicals. Through punning based on the metaphors of 'liquidity', 'solvency', 'dissolution' and so on, the narrator's 'statistical tables' display in dollar terms his 'income', his 'outgoings' and his 'expenses' and suggest a vital balance to be struck lest what comes in should be superseded by what goes out. Similarly, man should be the perfect manager of the economy of his own body.
Baudelaire promises his publisher that the translations of Poe's tales, collected in Histoires extraordinaires, will be immensely popular, especially given the meticulous care with which he has arranged them. This paper argues that Baudelaire's reference to the 'ordre' of the volume of Histoires extraordinaires requires that it be read as embodying a central unity, as each narrative functions in terms of an over-arching design. Discussion of the third story of the collection, The Gold-Bug or Le scarabée d'or, reveals the role that money and financial exchange played for both authors, not only thematically but as a structural element of the process of translation itself.
This paper will examine the dialectic relationship between three contemporary poets and the marketplace. It discusses not only the specific economic situations of their poetry and associated social formations, but also the way in which their poetic forms reflect and react to the ideology of the marketplace. Arkadii Dragomoshchenko has moved from writing in Russia's underground to working within an unstable capitalist environment. Lyn Hejinian, on the other hand, deals with the literary and social problems of living in the archetype of contemporary capitalist societies, the U.S.A. Yang Lian lives in London, in exile from his native China, where the recent turn to capitalism coincided with his development as a writer. The contrasting situations of the three poets allow for an examination of the differences and similarities between the capitalist societies in which they operate and between their poetic modes. By examining these differences and similarities, the paper will address issues concerning poetry's currency both as a symptom and critique of the marketplace.
The hunt for treasure is one of the oldest literary motifs. It gains particular poignancy in the modern period, when the fascination with objects from a distant past and different cultures coincides with an increased acquisition of foreign wealth through colonialisation and imperialism. Yet as the same time as fictional treasure mirrors the actual expansion of territory and influence, it also assumes a symbolic role as a litmus test of the stability and legitimacy of cultural dominance. Thus, moral justifications of looting coincide with suspicions that the wealth thus gained will produce - or increase - the corruption or decadence of the treasure hunters themselves, and thus, by extension, of the ideological concepts (of nation, empire, and culture) they represent. This paper will investigate the ideologies behind the treasure hunts in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island (1883) and Henry Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines (1885), comparing them with the very different treasure hunt in Karl May's Der Schatz im Silbersee (1894).
The Austrian Thomas Bernhard and the Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo are in the vanguard of those European authors who question domestic claims on the issue of national identity. Bernhard's Auslöschung (1986) tells of the inheritance of an old, family estate, and Goytisolo's Señas de identidad (1966) of the troubled road to modernity of a Spanish industrial dynasty. In the two novels, a contemplation of personal heritage and of the wider 'cultural bequest' takes place, culminating in the protagonists' decisive rejection of both. Central to the novels' impact is the literary language used, which features conspicuously in their 'art of rejection'. The inheritance of a culture's discourse, which they view as stultified and historically charged by the shadow of empire, prompts the writers to make a mockery of national and individual self-delusion and the language that it bears and/or is borne by.
Edith Simcox (1844-1901) was a scholar, businesswoman, activist and writer who admired George Eliot. Her personal accomplishments as well as statements which she makes in her Autobiography of a Shirtmaker articulate the arguments of the women's movement of the nineteenth century which actually made economic independence a viable option for every woman. In word and deed, Simcox repudiates the choices which the women in Eliot's novels make in response to money and monetary concerns. However, even though Eliot's characters make the 'wrong' decisions from a feminist view, Eliot is having them ask the 'right' questions. A remarkable number of Eliot's heroines are struggling with aspects of women's economic independence.
In 1855, Gustav Freytag published Soll und Haben (Debit and Credit), a novel which chronicles the highly idealised development of a naïve German accountant into a sort of moral capitalist. In the same year, Gottfried Keller was writing his novella Der Schmied seines Glückes (The Forger of his Own Destiny) about a shamelessly manipulative conman forging his fortune as he goes. Despite their differences, the two heroes, and their authors' reliance on models of finance to represent them, underscore a shared awareness of an inherent representational tension in German-language realism. Focusing on a world of bourgeois capitalism and finance that was just beginning to assert itself in German-speaking Europe, each author uses financial models to make the realism of his literary representation more persuasive.
This paper looks at the representation of big businessmen in twentieth-century French fiction and identifies characteristics of the stereotype, which are that the businessman is a thoroughgoing villain, has a fall engineered by someone and eventually dies horribly. This pattern is illustrated by reference to Druon's Les Grandes Familles. The absence of businesswomen and the issue of Jewish origins are considered. In addition to description, the paper suggests political and cultural sources for the stereotype and examines both how it determines narrative structure and how the pattern has to be reshaped for the 'roman fleuve'. The contrast between realist fiction and business reality is noted.
'Today the law makes money the measure of everything', says Bianchon in La Cousine Bette, and Balzac makes money the measure of realism in his fiction. This paper argues that Balzac's obsession with money from within a Judaeo-Christian discourse on sacrifice allows him to develop a theory and practice of realism that is concerned with the devaluation and revaluation of 'reality' in fiction. It focuses on the Old Testament story of the Golden Calf that Balzac employs as a metaphor in La Cousine Bette to explain how 'reality' is bound to an economy of exchange/retribution. This story helps Balzac to show that disinterested sacrifice is, in itself, an economy that capitalises on the loss of all exchange within a material world, and that it is in effect an illusion of which one has forgotten that it is an illusion. Thus, the paper rethinks realist fiction as the narrative development of the paradoxical relationship between idealism and materialism and hence considers the questions their respective relevance to Christianity and Judaism raises about realism as a genre of writing.
The terrifying figure of the vampire who drains his victims of their blood to perpetuate his ghastly existence was exploited by writers as diverse as Lord Byron and Karl Marx. The ever-transforming figure of the vampire reflects the ideological beliefs of a specific time and culture, and is a figure around which revolve issues of sexuality, power and class. Vampires in nineteenth-century literature can be seen as offering an intimacy which threatened class relationships. This paper explores the ideological implications of the vampire as capitalist exploiter in James Rymer's Varney the Vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula and Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla. The vampires in Rymer's and Stoker's texts function as metaphors for the predatory effects that Marx's bourgeoisie had on its victims of the Victorian present. The female vampire in Le Fanu's tale, seen as a threat to the lower- and middle-class families, can be construed, in the context of the Anglo-Irish experience in Ireland, as a threat to the tyrannical Anglo-Irish landowners.
The prostitute is a topos and icon of Symbolist-Decadent poetry, and in the guise of 'femme fatale' is often contrasted with the poet. The distance, both spatial and attitudinal, which in such instances separates the poet from the prostitute is, nevertheless, on other occasions attenuated or even eradicated, and their relationship acquires a 'transactional' character: poet and prostitute are configured as equivalent terms or equals, or even conflated, creating a 'monetary union' on an aesthetic level. This paper will explore the transactional relationship between poet and prostitute with reference to the pertinence of the monetary analogy in a context where artistic creation was represented as a process of alchemy-as-wealth-generation in which traditionally discrete discourses emerge.
Recent criticism on late-nineteenth-century literature has tended to read the aestheticist conception of the autonomy of art, justified by a Kantian notion of disinterest, as a negative response to the pressures of the marketplace. This paper argues, through a reading of The Aspern Papers, that the crucial concept of disinterest mediates two seemingly opposing models of exchange: the notion of art as an end in itself, and the utilitarian relationship between means and ends exemplified by a certain understanding of money. In this novel, the narrator's use of money in his pursuit of an auratic ideal of art situated outside exchange results in the annulment of disinterest, because of his failure to recognise that such exchanges, both aesthetic and monetary, also constitute a contract of friendship. The fictional nature of the aesthetic secret, as James puts it in his 1908 'Preface', is mistaken by the Aspern narrator as a truth, thus obscuring the real relations it does enable. This confrontation of paradigms of exchange complicates the notion that aesthetic judgement is simply the rejection of the economic, and suggests that James' understanding of aesthetic disinterest is profoundly engaged with questions posed by late-nineteenth-century monetary theory.
This paper analyses a chapter of Melville's remarkable novel The Confidence Man in the light of the writings of theorists Lewis Hyde and Jacques Derrida. In the story of China Aster, a man who accepts a loan from a friend and dies as a consequence of this incurred debt, Melville tests the possibilities of the gift (and of friendship) in a market-driven society. He shows what Hyde theorises in his book The Gift: that a loan even in the friendliest of spirits (and with the apparently inevitable consequence of usury) turns a brother into an 'other' and therefore ultimately into a lethal enemy. But unlike Hyde, who poses the gift as an alternative to the market, and much closer to Derrida's reflection on the gift in his two books The Gift of Death and Given Time: Counterfeit Money, Melville's novel, as epitomised in this chapter, is preoccupied, not to say obsessed, with the impossibility of the gift. This complex novel, beginning with the sign 'Charity never faileth', proves the opposite: that charity always faileth in a world where money and interest exist. For that reason it ends by replacing the old man's reading of the Bible with his reading of money with a counterfeit detector.
This paper explores the notions of waste, borrowing and disproportion between investment and returns in Gerhardie's first two novels, Futility (1922) and The Polyglots (1925), with references to his autobiography Memoirs of a Polyglot (1931). These notions will be examined both at the literary level, as embodiment of the illusory nature of the financial resources on which the characters rely, and at the metaphorical level, since financial analogies are often used in his work to convey metaphysical reflections. Ultimately, in an economic world where monetary signs are divorced from work and production, literary production appears as a notable exception which, in The Polyglots, gives rise to a metaleptic plea for the reader's financial contribution.
Children and money seem to stand in an antagonistic relationship. While money clearly belongs to the adult world and is closely associated with moral corruption, children are often considered emblems of innocence. How do two writers of the 'Gilded Age' approach these subjects? This paper specifically considers Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) and Henry James' What Maisie Knew (1897), in which money and children play a pivotal role. While Twain's protagonist looks from the margins at his society in the American South, James' heroine belongs to the upper stratum of English society. What kind of consciousness do these child focalisers develop towards money, and how does this constitute the meaning of the texts?
The early works of Thoman Mann (Buddenbrooks, Tonio Kröger) and the novels of Italo Svevo (Una Vita, Senilità, La Coscienza di Zeno) include merchants among their principal characters and draw their substance from the atmosphere of Lübeck and Trieste's mercantile seafaring societies. Both products of merchant families, Mann and Svevo adapt autobiographical material to portray idiosyncratic views of human alienation under capitalism. This paper compares the discovery and use of Schopenhauer as a commentator on materialism, also the development of Svevo's 'inetto' and Mann's doomed artist (Hanno Buddenbrook). Both authors explore business activities and money-making as markers of identity and personality, and set up clear oppositions between trade and art. These two human impulses combine to produce tortured and ultimately self-destructive characters such as Thomas Buddenbrooks and Alfonso Nitti, but understood and played out against each other, the same impulses also later produce the reconciled, self-ironising Zeno and Kröger.
This paper examines James de Mille's novel within the context of economic utopia and dystopia, beginning with a consideration of the way the author structures the novel (expectation/reversal) and how he uses irony to play with the protagonist, the readers in the frame story and the readers outside of the story. With reference to Michael André Bernstein's The Poetics of Ressentiment, the paper examines how the novel's dialogism is dissected and understood by the hero, and how the hero learns to exploit the Kosekins (the ultimate Nietzschean slaves) for his own economic benefit. This final act of exploitation will be seen as an act of ironic reconciliation between the two contradictory systems of value (Western/ Kosekin), as capitalism (with all its attendent ills) resolves the problematic situation to everyone's great satisfaction.
This paper addresses the relationship between literary propriety as outlined in Smith's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres and explanations of moral propriety in The Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations, arguing that each is governed by the limiting principle of self-command, by an 'economic' conception of the appropriateness of style and behaviour to the conditions under which they operate, or the ends they seek to attain. The paper sets Smith's arguments in the context of contemporary debate about the merits and demerits of a plain, concise style or the luxuriant circumstantiality of a prolix one. Deductions about the character and social station of an author are frequently made on the basis of a perceived economy or profligacy of style.
Is money the root of all evil? Is money the most common motive for murder? This paper compares two murder mysteries, Agatha Christie's Dumb Witness and Sabine Deitmer's Kalte Küsse. At first glance the two works have much in common: both are crime fiction novels by female authors; both deal with murder; both use the conceit of an animal as a 'witness' of sorts; both intersperse a first person narrative with inserts in the third person. However, on closer inspection, it is the differences which become of greater significance, notably in the different motives for the crimes. In Christie the murder was committed for money but in Deitmer the murder is connected with a terrible history of child abuse and incest. These changes can be construed as consistent with a change in the aims of crime writers and are paradigmatic of a new social awareness, conscience and mission in crime fiction.
It is a curious fact that critics have not so far chosen to examine the issue of money when considering the fiction of Jean Rhys. Rhys's books echo with emotionally charged and almost poetic meditations on the nature of money, and her protagonists, despite the threat of real poverty and even starvation, spend much more time losing or refusing money, giving it away or simply getting rid of it, than they do acquiring and holding on to it. The crux of the matter is that money is simply more important as a psychological tool than as an economic tool for the protagonists. This paper argues, specifically, that Sasha Jensen, the protagonist of Good Morning, Midnight, structures her economic life so as to keep herself poor and dependent upon relatives and acquaintances, in a controlled effort to keep herself connected to the world around her. Without this dependence, Sasha knows that she would likely fall into a truly debilitating isolation, as she otherwise tends to structure her life according to a logic of avoidance. Indeed, asking for money is the only way that Sasha has found to 'open herself up', and to generate any possibility for intimacy.
How does the language of money link up to the language of love in Kierkegaard's discourse Works of Love? Both seem strikingly similar in that they are desired, they regulate interpersonal relationships, and involve exchange. This particular title seems a promising starting-point to begin mapping Kierkegaard's understanding of money, using computer applications. Five ideas are suggested by the terms associated with Penge, the Danish term for money in the title. Together they indicate that Kierkegaard is not only showing what it means to live a truly human life but also questioning liberal politico-economic practice which seems to overlook the fact that money has a variable role in human relationships and practical living.
Charles Johnstone's Chrysal: or, the Adventures of a Guinea is the earliest, as well as the most important, of those novels narrated from the point of view of money for which there was a minor vogue in the late eighteenth century. This paper focuses on a prolonged scene in which the guinea describes the rescue of a group of Christian boys from a synagogue, moments before they are sacrificed. In Anti-Semitic Stereotypes: A Paradigm of Otherness in English Popular Culture, 1660-1830, Frank Felsenstein writes somewhat dismissively of Johnstone's exploitation of the blood libel, but Johnstone's reinvigoration of the blood libel in his novel of monetary 'circulation' can be seen as more significant: the return of a repressed nightmare of capital.
In his cycle of novels entitled Le Monde réel, French communist writer Louis Aragon (1897-1982) undertook a wide-ranging critique of capitalist society in the France of the first half of the twentieth century. Enthusiastically promoting the doctrine of socialist realism, Aragon attempts in his novels to present a view of that society from a socialist perspective. His avowed interest both in the position of women and in the problematic nature of love within capitalist society emerge as central preoccupations. The recurring figure of the prostitute is one expression of this interest. This paper will explore the ways in which Aragon's representations of the socially marginal figure of the prostitute help to elaborate his political critique of bourgeois capitalist society and cast light on his views of the status of women in that society.
Marie-Luise Kohlke (University of Wales Swansea, U.K.)
In the trope of the whore, capitalist desires for profit/fears of bankruptcy deconstruct while writing themselves into existence. Carter's archetypal prostitutes are paradoxically dependent for their economic survival on the frugal conservation and liberal consumption of the bodies which constitute their capital and currency. This virulent circulation in the marketplace finds symbolic expression in the syphilis infecting, consuming and disseminated by both Baudelaire's mistress, the 'Black Venus', and the necrophilic marionette Lady Purple. Defined and negated as desirable/horrible body, the whore is emptied of subjectivity, becoming a tabula rasa for male projections/fantasies of the female other. She precipitates a proliferating discourse of desire, driven by the same vampiric ideology of production/consumption it vilifies her for.
Astrid Kurth (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, U.K.)
This paper focuses on the long-term survivor, his identity performances and narrative as presented by Mario Wirz in his two 1994 works. It will analyse the cultural framework and the influence of consumer culture on the performance and marketing of identity in literary texts for profit: specifically, the long-term survivor's performance of identity, his engagement with and use of consumer culture's dynamics as they influence the literary marketplace of producing and selling texts to a paying audience. Wirz on the one hand describes German consumer culture as marginalising people living with HIV and Aids while simultaneously establishing them as commodities for consumption. Wirz's protagonist's illness-identity, on the other hand, is a conscious and critical performance marketing its own marginalisation, simultaneously re-enforcing and criticising social norms.
Laurence Sterne and E.T.A. Hoffmann have both been accused of plagiarism, yet both also thematise plagiarism parodically within their highly self-conscious, playful fictions. After a general consideration of the question of intertextuality (when does literary 'borrowing' become theft?) this paper focuses on the specific cases of these two authors and their most famous instances - the unacknowledged quotations from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy in Tristram Shandy, and the traces of Lewis's The Monk in The Devil's Elixirs. It argues that both writers seek pre-emptively to disarm any criticisms of plagiarism that might be levelled at them by addressing it as a theme - in Tristram Shandy (V/1), where Tristram 'plagiarises' Burton on plagiarism, and in Murr the Tomcat (II/3), where the 'editor' upbraids Murr in a 'marginal note' for parodying As You Like It. The paper concludes with a discussion of the influence of Sterne on Hoffmann, arguing that the more obvious Sternean features of The Life and Opinions of Murr the Tomcat (its very title, and the conceit, derived from A Sentimental Journey, of including scraps of 'waste paper') need to be complemented by recognising that the thematisation of plagiarism is itself a Sternean trait.
Wealth, in the early days of Canadian society, presented a predicament to many authors. Wealth was a goal, but not one that any decent Canadian Protestant would admit to having. As a result, wealthy Canadians were often a topic of ridicule in Canadian fiction, the criticism ranging from the humorous to the sublime. In the stories and poems of the gold rush by Robert Service, a banker before becoming an author, money is second to the beauty of nature and also the cause of death and destruction. Ralph Connor (Rev. Charles W. Gordon) equated money with sin, showing the relationships between men who had found wealth but lost their faith. Stephen Leacock, an academic and social critic, demonstrated that wealth and power are often held by the least deserving. This paper assesses the criticism of the wealthy in Canadian society and questions whether there was a hidden political agenda to these criticisms in the light of their own financial status.
Critics have argued that Mamet's play dramatises modern American business culture as a vulgar, amoral, brutal environment underwritten by a masculinist fantasy about securing a closed space from which all traces of the feminine have been purged. This paper argues that it shows this culture to be underwritten by a humanist fantasy about securing closed economic and narrative systems in which both monetary and linguistic currency can be made to yield an absolute value. Working out of a resale shop, Mamet's characters paradoxically display a longing to keep money and language out of circulation, expressed as a desire to take back what has been said or sold. Though they ostensibly believe their success depends on being able to capitalise on various circuits of exchange - the rare coin trade, poker games, telephone conversations - these petty crooks nevertheless act as ascetics for whom all forms of exchange with the world are corruptive. They are anxious to close up shop, literally and figuratively, in order to redeem themselves by redeeming coins and words at some transcendent value. This tension between the temptation to set up a plot (entrepreneurial, criminal, narrative) and the desire to shut down a plot is neatly exemplified at the outset of Glengarry Glen Ross, companion piece to American Buffalo; the text 'opens' with an epigraph, identified as a 'Practical Sales Maxim', that reads: 'ALWAYS BE CLOSING'.
In April 1850, the Parisian journal for politics, economy and literature, Le Démocrate, welcomes the abolition of censorship and privileges of the French stage. Exposed to competition and therefore dependent on the paying audience, the theatre could now begin to raise itself to aesthetic and moral heights, entrusting itself to the audience's 'bon sens'. Only by means of his money was the bourgeois at last entitled to feel a full member of humankind, being able to acquire formerly aristocratic privileges and forming the style of democracy by an aesthetically inspired way of living. This paper presents relevant debates considering beauty as the guarantee of morals, an idea derived from Kant and Schiller.
Female-authored crime fiction is a relatively new literary phenomenon in Italy and has experienced considerable growth in recent years. Departing from a predominantly foreign tradition, essentially dominated by men, Italian women writers have appropriated the genre and adapted it to their own aesthetic. This paper looks at two crime novels, written by Fiorella Cagnoni and Francesca Duranti respectively and featuring two amateur female detectives. Both novels deal with a money scam, hinting at financial gain through fraud as the reason behind the crimes, which in both cases include murder. Given that murder and fraud are the two most common types of crime narrated in detective fiction, the paper considers to what extent the authors have conformed to the established conventions of the genre, or whether this ostensible adherence to structural and thematic rules becomes the vehicle for the articulation of further, unresolved, anxieties. It seeks to establish whether Cagnoni and Duranti's contribution to female-authored crime fiction exhausts itself in their having created female characters engaged in traditionally male activities, or whether they have been able to enhance the expressive potentialities of the genre in Italian literature by adding to it a further, gender-specific dimension.
With a few notable exceptions, Proustian critics have tended to minimise the role of money in À la recherche. Yet money in Proust's great novel is (to paraphrase Flaubert) everywhere present if not always obviously visible. Examples abound: money is crucial in transforming social structures and hierarchies, as in Mme Verdurin's ultimate elevation to the position of princesse de Guermantes; it likewise contaminates most of the major erotic-amorous relationships in the novel (Swann and Odette, Saint-Loup and Rachel, Charlus and Morel and, of course, Marcel and Albertine). This paper will focus primarily on the interconnections between money and the aesthetic - that ultimate repository of value in À la recherche - exploring both the resistance the work of art offers to the encroachment of the exchange principle, but also the subtle ways in which the exchange principle 'returns' to infiltrate aesthetic production and experience.
This paper explores the link between economic and aesthetic value as expressed in the image of paper in Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. Though it appears to be represented in the traditional terms of the opposition between paper and gold money, the question of value is staged in the novel in a way that upsets such conventional oppositions - oppositions that inform so many of the contemporary approaches to money in nineteenth-century literature. Rather than being simply opposed to gold, paper in Hardy's novel becomes what Walter Benjamin calls a 'dialectical image' of value.
The connection between hospitality and storytelling dates back to epic poetry, wherein strangers are welcomed, refreshed and fed, then invited to tell their stories as a form of reciprocation. Personal histories are traded for sustenance, shelter and even protection in a number of early modern novels, a form of exchange which implies a contract between the guest-narrator and the host-narratee. Marivaux's Marianne tells her story repeatedly in order to gain the patronage of those whom she encounters: she engages in a form of emotional prostitution, moving her audience to tears and thereby compelling them to come to her assistance. Sade's Justine both confirms and violates the same storytelling contract as the heroine is repaid for her storytelling by acts of increasing violence against her by those to whom she confides her story. Her ultimate act of storytelling is variously rewarded in alternative versions of the novel with a short-lived degree of protection or a further and final negation of the storytelling contract.
Debt reflects social relations. In the third book of Gargantua and Pantagruel, Rabelais has Panurge reply to Pantagruel's asking when he will be out of debt with a lengthy discourse on debt as the soul of the universe. The joking about debt is rooted in a serious view of a world based on mutual obligation. A more systematic contemporary version of this perspective is developed in Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy (which is eminently rational even if its description of the natural world lacks any material basis). Shakespeare, one or two generations later, presents a perspective the same in form but, most tellingly in King Lear and Macbeth, social bond has been transformed into individual exchange.
In his crucial essay The Essence of Truth, Martin Heidegger critiques the traditional philosophical attempt to arrive at a truth by matching statements to things. In the course of questioning this correspondence model of truth, he uses several economic metaphors. Through them we can trace the movement of his thought away from 'economic calculation' and its commodified sense of the world to a vision of truth as something freely 'pre-given', preceding human enquiry. The economic metaphors considered are images of gold, the use of coins as an example of things, and finally the term 'pre-given' and its implications. Heidegger can be seen to be seeking a gift economy where the bilateral exchange for mutual gain characteristic of barter is opened to the possibility of more indirect exchanges, beyond gain and loss and even beyond the human. These exchanges are 'presentational' rather than 'thing-like approximations' and function in the same manner as Heidegger's phenomenological statements about things. This openness to indirect exchange can be called the possibility of possibility.
Grandet lives all his life without any notion of God: indeed, his only object of veneration is Gold. This passion hurts anyone who lives or deals with him. Thus Balzac shows the direct relationship between faithlessness and greed, also underlining the absurdity of the miser's life. In Silas Marner, Eliot also opposes Gold to God, but her miser is a sympathetic character, which is quite exceptional in literature. But Marner has been a believer in his youth and has remained a good person despite his deep disappointment. But it was his lack of understanding of true religion that led him to his absurd worship of Gold. After Eppie's miracle, the real face of God is at last revealed to him, and he is cured of his sickness. This paper assesses the way in which the opposition of Gold/God is presented, as well as the treatment of the absurd related to miserliness.
The establishment of value is a central problem of King John. Indifferentiation, or 'undetermined differences of kings', militates against the emergence of a stable notion of secular nationhood. An important theme of Anouilh's Becket, 'collaboration', can be seen as a devaluation of national allegiance, a failure of differentiation between native and alien advantage. In Becket, 'collaboration' is in conflict with 'l'honneur de Dieu' as a way of placing allegiance. The plays, set in twelfth-century England and France and written in epochs of national crisis, show the playwrights addressing contemporary issues through the revaluation of national histories. This paper argues that 'England' does not emerge into secular history in King John and that Becket's 'honneur de Dieu' is closer to Camusian revolt than to a medieval certainty.
This paper discusses the inscription of value in symbolic and material economies at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It addresses in particular the link between writing and cultural and economic exchange patterns at work in the contact between Europeans and Native Americans. Discussion will focus on the wampum belt as a privileged site for the inscription of value and its use in colonial contact (Robert Beverley and Joseph-François Lafitau), and the link between writing and collective memoria. The return to such a historical example at the outset of modernity allows us to see what is at stake and what was overlooked in the dominant (modern) theorisation of money (Jean-Joseph Goux).
This paper argues that there are two economies in Eliot's Daniel Deronda: a money economy figured by gambling, pawnbroking and pawning, as well as work for wages, and a gift economy with Grandcourt's poisonous gift of his mother's diamonds to Gwendolen as its most notorious instance, but charity in both the Jewish and Christian communities as more positive instances of the social bonds constructed and reaffirmed through gift-giving. Inheritances operate in both economies as mechanisms for maintaining family-based social bonds, but also as capital exposed to the hazards of speculation. While the money economy suggests the instability of modern capital markets and the possibility of female independence from oppressive patriarchal ties through paid employment, the gift economy harks back to an earlier order of close communal ties and archaic social institutions. Eliot seems to have borrowed notions from contemporary anthropology, such as Edward B. Tylor's 'survivals', in her representaion of gifting as a remnant of older social orders. The paper will also draw on Eliot's knowledge of political economy and of recent speculative crises to examine the interplay between these two economies in the novel.
Since Prudentius's Psychomachia, the morally ambiguous position of economic behaviour in medieval and early modern ethical thought has been inscribed in a long line of allegories. The frequency with which Avarice can appear in the disguise of its opposing virtue is both a psychological factor (C.S. Lewis) and a critique of the critical understanding of allegory as a wholly determined mode of literature (Hans-Robert Jauss), in which meaning is indicated by merely naming a personification. The instability of a personified Avarice is a recognition of 'symbolic capital' in cultural exchange (Paul Bordieu). The development of virtues under the guise of which Avarice often appears supports the moral amelioration of pre-capitalist economic enterprise by serving to legitimise economic modes of valuation.
This paper explores the sincerity of Henri Barbusse's commitment to the principles of Communism, with specific reference to the ownership of private property and personal wealth. Barbusse (1873-1935) achieved international fame, and a considerable fortune, thanks to Under Fire (1916), a First World War narrative containing the first realistic account of life and death in the trenches of the Western Front. With the proceeds, Barbusse purchased a flat in Paris and a villa near the Mediterranean coast, to add to the spacious property north of Paris that he had already bought with the earnings fom the sale of Hell (1908). There followed automobiles, a sailing boat and other trappings of material success, none of which sat too happily with his vigorous denunciations of the capitalist system, or his membership of the nascent French Communist Party from 1923-1935, paradoxes not lost on his fellow Party members. Yet, by the end of his life, he had brought himself to the brink of financial ruin propping up his own creation, the pro-Communist periodical Monde. With reference to specific texts, both literary and otherwise, this paper will demonstrate that in respect of money, as in so many other respects, Barbusse was less, yet also more of a Communist than many a Communist.
This paper will establish a connection between representations of idealised feminine economies and stories of reformed fallen women in sentimental literature of the mid-eighteenth century. It will discuss the relationship of this sentimental connection to contemporary debates about luxurious desire and social welfare in the emerging discourse of political economy. Specific consideration will be given to Sarah Scott's Millennium Hall (1762), and its affiliation with both Rousseau's La Nouvelle Héloïse (1760) and the anonymous Histories of the Penitents (1760), a novel masquerading as the true autobiographical confessions of the first women welcomed into the London Magdalen Hospital for penitent prostitutes. Sentimental literature of the mid-century can be seen as staging an (albeit precarious) rehabilitation of female desire which it offers as a positive force for social cohesion.
Karin Preuss (University of Wales Swansea, U.K.)
The temptation by shiny metals and the pact with the dark forces of nature are two major themes in Der Runenberg, Die Bergwerke zu Falun, and the popular fairy tales of Eine Geschichte vom Galgenmännlein and Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte. These four tales will be examined in the light of Georg Simmel's philosophical enquiry into 'Geldgier' (greed), 'Geiz' (avarice) and 'Verschwendung' (wastefulness), in order to highlight how the possibilities of wealth are immediately rejected as source of all evil, whenever the mine becomes the locus of the struggle for the pious soul. The negative associations of mining that predominate in the narratives - such as the fatal lure of precious metals, the sexuality of the mineral realm, the lore of the sparkling stones, and the descent into the mine as the embrace of the beloved - emphasise the familiar religious struggle of the pious soul, which is secularised wholly into the erotic. The idealisation of the poverty experienced before is naïve, but embedded within the philosophy of Romantic Idealism, as nature takes its revenge upon the individual while he is trying to re-define and improve his position in society. Avarice, envy and the loss of one's mind and soul are the fatal consequences of such behaviour.
This paper focuses on two novels: J.B. Priestley's The Good Companions (1929) and Ibuse Masuji's Shuukin ryokou (The Bill-Collection Trip, 1935). The latter describes the travels of an unlikely couple through western Japan, the one collecting bills from absconding tenants, the other 'compensation' from former lovers for broken promises. Priestley's novel is the story of the formation and dissolution of an old-fashioned concert party, who tour throughout central and northern England in almost exactly the same inter-war period. The picaresque genre, emerging from Spain in the late Renaissance, is only possible when wealth has become portable (money) and regular routes have assured trade between different regions of a country. The original story of the picaro is therefore the story of a character 'on the make', but it is also the story of a country in the making. Ibuse and Priestley revived the picaresque tradition in order to reflect the radical changes in their respective societies, and to lament the disappearance of the world that the earlier picaresque had described. In both cases, the moneymaking activities which provide the motivation for their central characters poignantly reflect their adherence to a social order which is largely out of date.
Mr Badman, the eponymous protagonist of John Bunyan's Life and Death of Mr Badman (1680), can be seen as a way-station on the road leading from the Tempter of Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners to Diabolus of The Holy War. A prototype of the early modern tradesman in an English country town, Mr Badman makes an honest living by cheating his fellow townsmen out of their available cash. As he uses deceitful weights and measures, charges unfair prices for his goods and deals dishonestly with creditors, Mr Badman embodies the price - in coin of the physical and spiritual realm - exacted from and paid by the unethical merchant. If the individual life is figured as a pilgrim in The Pilgrim's Progress, the narrator of Mr Badman may be said to envision life as a marketplace in which the boundaries between scrip, script and Scripture are most intriguingly blurred.
In post-Civil War American literature that concerns itself with interactions between white and black Americans, money exchanges are often the sites of disrupted transactions that heighten, rather than neutralise, difference. This paper looks at the way American money, burdened by the history of slavery, resists abstraction and fails to become the neutralising enabler of exchange it was designed to achieve. In these texts, money seems not to have recovered from the slavery history it represses, and often becomes the locus of that repression. Placing these texts next to the writings of money theorists such as Simmel and Benn Michaels underscores the extent to which money's connotations of worth, and its claims to represent labour as a commodity, are skewed by America's racial history.
This paper locates the early Victorian debate on greed, or 'mammonism', within the context of the consolidation of an industrial capitalist economy. It argues that the trope of mammonism needs to be read as an attempt to figure the problems generated by this new economic order. More specifically, it argues that mammonism is an expression of early Victorian anxieties concerning the effects of capital accumulation and consumer desire. These in turn are symptoms of a wider sense of unease regarding the relationship between economics and morality. The paper explores the representation of greed as a destabilising and socially corrosive force in the work of a variety of writers including Martineau, Carlyle, Engels and Dickens. It then considers the various strategies employed by Martineau, Carlyle and Mill to identify greed as an illegitimate and inessential aspect of capitalism, paying particular attention to their attempts to imagine the figure of the 'ethical capitalist' untainted by mammonism. This figure is compared with his fictional counterparts in the work of Disraeli and Gaskell.
Although fairy tales had long been largely perceived as unacceptable children's reading and objected to on rational, moral and religious grounds, Grimms' Kinder- und Hausmärchen played a crucual role in legitimising fairy tales in England and were household names by 1888. Every decade since the 1920s has seen a new translation of the text and, as association with the Grimms became a mark of excellence, this brand name recognition was exploited by the publishing market selling very different material under titles which suggested a link with the German tradition. Using one of the popular stories from the Kinder- und Hausmärchen as a textual 'tracking device', this paper will present an overview of the 'unauthorised' reception of the Grimms in the nineteenth century such as pirated editions, unacknowledged reprints of established texts and 'newly' published collections which recycle existing material in new and varying combinations of tales. The paper also traces the practice of re-issuing an established collection under a new title or the publication of a collection of different tales under an existing and successful title.
Cast in Defoe's familiar framework of the Puritan spiritual autobiography, the female protagonist Roxana repeatedly sounds out the religious sense of justice directed against her wicked way of life in which she amasses enormous amounts of money. The author dwells on the details of wealth accumulation throughout the novel, until at the end Roxana's fortunes - and her fortune - suddenly reverse. Defoe's famously abrupt ending arises from contemporary knowledge of the spectacular success and then failure of the two most notable financial institutions in Europe, the French conglomerate of the Banque Royale and the Mississippi Company, and the English South Sea Company. Defoe relies on these financial spectacles, the argument goes, to fill in the gaps in the novel concerning the way God works out justice, yet doing so produces a fascinating new paradigm of the business woman. This portrait is contrasted with a celebrated Korean story framed in patriotism rather than Puritanism, concerning a woman who is successful in making money at a time when the old Korea dies out and a new Korea emerges.
Bella's 'money, money, money' and Twemlow's 'waste, waste, waste' are two obsessions that reflect a neglected tension in Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend between a wasteful leisure-class and the filthy scavengers of the capitalist city. This paper re-examines the economy of the novel in the overlooked context of sanitary discourse as well as the financial scandals of the 1860s. Comparison is made with Hugo's Les Misérables, Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, and medical reports which draw on the trope of the natural organism in order to promote a discipline of circulation. Circulation in the text of the body and the body of the text, it will be argued, is essential to monetary flow and economic prosperity, yet Dickens' novel in several ways problematises the morality of money-making and deconstructs gender and class in its own recycling of Victorian attitudes to waste and money, which should be distinguished from our post-Freudian association of money with the anal fixation and Norman O. Brown's 'excremental vision'.
The conflict between the ideal of freedom and the cash nexus is of particular significance in both literary and critical work. In D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers the ideal of liberty in the aesthetic work can be seen to conflict ideologically with its mode of production. However, by tracing the evolution of Sons and Lovers from manuscript to publication, one can explore how the concept of freedom is both contradictory and necessary to the reproduction of capitalistic conditions of production. Furthermore, the position the critic holds in relation to his or her own work, the literature that work analyses, and the marketplace, involves similar issues. Thus, one should also turn to the editors and critics of Sons and Lovers who have attempted to reconstruct Lawrence as an artist now freed from social constraint, from within a comparable tension between intellectual freedom and material necessity.
What are the status, meaning and uses of gifts in poems from Clément Marot's L'Adolescence clémentine and La Suite de l'Adolescence clémentine? This paper will examine how Marot's texts establish close connections between gifts and trade. Gifts and trade are seen as relational modes central to human solidarity. In Marot's poems, the interaction of social, moral and economic conceptions of gifts is closely linked to classical and Christian views on gifts emphasising charity, generosity and gratitude.
In The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James borrows the schema or motif of the human hand from Prosper Mérimée's La Vénus d'Ille and adapts it to the workings of the 'confidence game'. Isabel Archer's choice is between Osmond's artful surfaces and Goodwood's seemingly more representatively American naturalness - his offered hand. In the manipulation of surfaces for profit, Osmond and Madame Merle play the confidence game. Isabel's role is that of the dupe - she is fleeced - but the concern in the end is about the moral perils not of trust, but of distrust. Isabel discovers the irony of deception: that to swindle is an unconscious compliment to truth and trust. This discovery can be related to the traditions of the trickster story or 'confidence man' in American and European novels from which James' form of realism has generally been dissociated.
Both Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Gabrielle Roy's Bonheur d'occasion were international bestsellers of the 1940s. Both depicted life in deprived urban areas: the tenements of Brooklyn during World War I, and the down-at-heel neighbourhood of Saint Henri in Montreal at the beginning of World War II. Both have teenage heroines struggling to make a way for themselves against the odds. Money - the lack of it, the need for it, what one will do for it - underscores the individual dramas. Nevertheless, a different approach and a different tone characterise the treatment of similar themes.
This paper offers for consideration a constellation of terms to do with corruption, deceit and fraud in Paul de Man's Epistemology of Metaphor. De Man's essay seems on the surface to deliver a fairly straightforward epistemology, but closer reading reveals instead an extremely unstable, syntagmatic logic which precipitates just the opposite: the radical impossibility of knowing the difference betwen literal and figural, real and counterfeit. At the nexus of this crisis is a startling misquotation of Locke, which I attempt to read in the context of a system of pecuniary and rhetorical circulation whose legitimacy is constantly questioned and which functions ultimately as an allegory of (mis)reading.
This paper argues that in Henry IV, Part I, a strategy of theatrical legitimation shadows, at varying and unstable distances, the more overt strategy of dynastic legitimation that occupies the play's political plot. This shadowing reveals itself in the play's dense knotting of commerce, rhetorical prowess, and imposture, centred on Prince Hal, and allows Shakespeare to present his theatre as a provisional accommodation to the representational and epistemological dislocations of a burgeoning credit culture. The argument navigates between on the one hand an under-historicised attention to the precise figurative contours of the play's language, and on the other hand an under-aestheticised concern with material practice at the expense of the linguistic playfulness that mediates it.
This paper aims to define money via the concept of discourse. Discourse is language as a form of social practice, and this implies that discourse is a mode of action, and is a practice not just of representing the world, but of signifying, constituting and constructing the world. It explores how and why money requires discourse in order to be money. Firstly, however, the following methodological points need to be considered: a) why discourse? - i.e why do we bother with the concept of discourse to investigate the ontology of money?; b) What is discourse? - i.e. what does discourse refer to in this paper?; c) what is not discourse? - i.e. is there a distinction between discourse and non(extra)-discourse? The focus is especially on how money appears to be different with a perspective of Discourse Theory by Ernesto Laclau, on the one hand, and with that of Critical Discourse Analysis, by Norman Fairclough, on the other. This methodological argument paves the way for explaining how and why discourse figures within, and partly constitutes, money as a social practice without collapsing money into discourse. Money is not merely symbolic; it is both symbolic and material.
This paper explores the theme of the relationship between the pursuit of money and the pursuit of knowledge in the written portrait which E.M. Cioran created of Scott Fitzgerald, an essay based on the drama which Fitzgerald played out as a result of his drive to be rich and famous. Textually, Cioran's account is focused on the posthumous autobiographical volume The Crack-Up, in which Fitzgerald confessed to his drama. According to Cioran, Fitzgerald wasted the potential inherent in his crisis and his failure, failing to grasp the Pascalian philosophical experience presented to him which could have nourished his writing in a unique way. Cioran aimed not only to confront the conflict between writer and money, but also to examine his own encounter with Fitzgerald in that realm. The paper interrogates the deconstruction of the French word 'carrière', which Cioran so crucially placed in the context of his critique of Fitzgerald. This is discussed as a semiosis, a process for accumulating sense and significance across the meaning of the word. But it can also be perceived as a life history, marked by the event or absence of money; as an image of the hunted quarry (Fitzgerald and his dream); and as the creative stone quarry which yielded up the material for his vision of the eternal creation and renewal of the human drama.
Ionesco's play Tueur sans gages is not, as has been thought, a dramatisation of a dream, but a critical reinterpretation of Greene's anti-capitalist thriller A Gun for Sale (Tueur à gages), which turns out to be a key source of his theatre. Ionesco challenges its concrete - economic, social and political - perspective. Randomness and obscurity in the play call into question a narrative based on dynamic action, implausible coincidences, social, economic and psychological motives, unconvincing character changes, and the mollifying ending of a work of popular fiction. Quests for revenge, justice and social order, and realistic evocations of poverty, greed and financial double-crossing, are parodied, excised or converted into transcendental images, universal symbols and anti-totalitarian satire.
Focusing on French-English language manuals printed in sixteenth-century England, this paper explores the problematic relatonship between linguistic and financial currency, as systems representing semantic and monetary values. It examines strategies used to promote the French language, both as the medium for narrow economic transactions securing the reader's commercial interests abroad, and as a means of securing moral profits through 'meaningful' cultural exchanges. The professional language teacher is seen struggling to reconcile the financial gains of his linguistic expertise with the Protestant ethos and with the discourse of patronage, which demand that linguistic knowledge must be tactfully presented within a gift economy. Analysis of the recurrent dialogues set within the Market Place highlights the extent to which commercial enterprise is itself part of a complex process of verbalisation, where financial transactions are frequently replaced by pledges, promises and bargains. As the problems of currency conversion and commodity exchange become apparent, the bilingual dictionaries raise oblique questions about the possibility of verbal equivalence, ultimately compromising the role of translator, as he mediates between two languages of disproportionate and negotiable value.
The appearance of symbolism in the works of the American Romantics seems to coincide with the expansion of commerce and trade, especially since the interest in money as an American cultural characteristic makes the American writers more receptive to the problem and the patterns that it generates. In their multi-layered writings, money as the general equivalent for all values - economic, political, or moral - becomes a central metaphor, a signifier, a hermetic code, that if deciphered will lead the reader from the surface text to the subtext, where the novelist questions American identity and values. The quest for an alternative currency or a spiritual meaning to money equates to the search for a new American identity. The alchemical process of turning vile metals into gold becomes a metaphor for the transformation of the American self. This paper considers two novels from diferent periods - Herman Melville's Moby Dick; or, The Whale (1851) and Norman Mailer's An American Dream (1965) - to demonstrate the continuity of this current in American mythical writing.
Money is a recurring theme in Madrid Cómico, one of the most important satirical journals of the Spanish Restoration period as far as both its influence and lifespan are concerned. The illustrated magazine was published weekly between 1880 and 1923 (although after 1900 with several interruptions), combining literary criticism with satirical and amusing reports of current events. It was not a work of Art (with a capital A), but rather a series of quick, satirical, usually realistic and occasionally romanticised sketches. In Madrid Cómico, money (and the lack of it) can be seen as a device that structures countless columns, short stories, poems, drawings and jokes, which point invariably at important tensions underlying Spanish society of the period. This paper examines some of the most noteworthy and hilarious examples.
Nineteenth-century uneasiness about the nature and social impact of money, and especially of credit money, haunts Victorian fiction. Little critical attention has, however, been paid to the obsessive interest of many dramas of the same period in the same problem. This paper looks at several mid-Victorian plays (by Bulwer-Lytton, Taylor, Lewes and others) that register the contemporary ambivalence regarding credit money by troping the behaviour of speculators and other indebted persons as theatrical. These characters are shifty, unreliable, dishonest - but successful. What is distinctive about the dramatic handling of the theme of 'new commerce' is that these playwrights seem to be exploring the relevance of concepts of money and credit to, first, the dramatic problem of 'character', and second, to a more general concern with 'national character'. What each play leaves us with is a lingering unease about the linkage of the performance of 'character' to the performance of money.
As the self-titled 'secretary' of his society, Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) was one of the first writers to chronicle the emergence of a fiercely competitive, capitalist France. Tormented with debt, he crammed his Comédie humaine full of the details of every conceivable transaction, from the price of a seat at the Opéra to the rent on a garret. And yet, while it is clear that money oils the wheels of Balzac's fictional universe, commentators have repeatedly failed to look beyond his Scènes de la vie parisienne in their discussions of this theme. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that Balzac's preoccupation with monetary themes extends far beyond the capital to the depths of the provinces, where in such novels as Eugénie Grandet (1833) and La Rabouilleuse (1841-42) he portrays townsmen as being no less motivated by the pursuit and amassing of wealth than their most unscrupulous Parisian counterparts.
Michael Beheim was a political poet of the mid-fifteenth century, first commissioned and encouraged to write by the German Chancellor and master of the Imperial Mint, Konrad of Weinsberg. This paper looks at Beheim's career and the processes whereby his political verse became 'currency' in courts and on the streets of German-speaking cities, and looks particularly at Beheim's self-image as a worker in words who made anew the tradition of German verse. His best-known poetical manifesto is a Gleichnis in which he compares poets to silver miners, who mine and mint the coin of song.
The pervasiveness of money in late imperial Chinese society has been a preoccupation of sinologists for much of the past century. While a considerable amount is known of the nuts and bolts of economic history of the period, less is understood about the effects of such dramatic economic change on the consciousness of the people who experienced it at first hand. Nevertheless, the literature of the period, especially in the vernacular, is brimming over with evidence of a fierce struggle to define a satisfactory role for 'profit' (li) within a symbolic moral economy. Staging this struggle in the form of a shrewdly constructed allegory is the early nineteenth-century novella Changyan dao (As the Saying Goes). This paper charts the allegorical geography of this little-known work in relation to late imperial debates over the status of 'desire' (yu) in the 'moral cultivation of the heart' (xiu xin), where desire is seen both positively as the source of life and negatively as the motive force behind rapacious profit-seeking. The character of Qian Shiming (homophonous with 'money is life') allows the author to explore a perceived tension between 'money' (qian) and 'life' (ming). At the same time, the novel concludes with an intriguing vision of utopian self-interest that stands in opposition to Qian Shiming's unprincipled pursuit of profit.
|Maintained by Margaret Anne Clarke|