Download Victorian Literature And Finance
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Warwick Studies in the European Humanities. Scolar Press, Financial narratives thus stressed how precarious the boundaries between professional, trustworthy and ruthless, fraudulent schemes could be. The plotting of financial speculation mirrors a Victorian fascination with such episodes, as well as an attempt to build cautionary tales aimed at preventing them from happening again, and an endeavour to work out their mechanisms, the better to outdo them. Narratives about speculative ventures were also a way of expressing anxieties about such schemes, as well as a way of containing the threat they represented through convenient closure achieved thanks to the construction and elimination of stock-market villains.
Financial plots in Victorian fiction voiced concerns about instability and rapid economic change. Tamara Wagner shows that the advent of modern finance and capitalism added to increased social and geographical mobility engendered emotional instability.
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The rise of a credit economy, the development of disembodied capital as opposed to landed wealth, stock-market fluctuations and crashes produced a sense of volatility as well as of personal vulnerability and epistemological uncertainty. Ideas of moral probity, stable identity and credit were seriously questioned. In this new context in which financial crises dovetailed with personal crises, traditional narrative structures took on new resonances.
The traditional villain became a stock-market villain and speculation provided a new way of understanding marriage and inheritance plots. The truly financial element in realism is the form. Two tropes in catpial: personification, the representation of an abstraction for a person, and metalepsis, the substitution of one figure for an another with which it is closely related. And the concert between these two concepts intone the concept of drive.
Coats and linen are personified, but people are just trager, agents of the ur-person: capital itself. Capital is the subject in this world.