Victorian Literature and Finance

Synopsis

Victorian Britain offered to the globe an economic structure of unique complexity. The trading nation, at the heart of a great empire, developed the practices of advanced capitalism - currency, banking, investment, money markets, business practices and theory, intellectual property legislation - from which the financial systems of the contemporary world emerged. Cultural forms in Victorian Britain transacted with high capitalism in a variety of ways but literary critics interested in economics have traditionally been preoccupied either with writers' hostility to industrial capitalism in terms of its shaping of class, or with the development of consumerism. Victorian Literature and Finance is the first extended study to take seriously the relationships between literary forms and those more complex discourses of Victorian high finance. These essays move beyond the examination of literature that was merely impatient with the perceived consequences of capitalism to analyze creative relationships between culture and economic structures. Considering such topics as the nature of currency, women and the culture of investment, the profits of a modern media age, the dramatization of risk on the Victorian stage, the practice of realism in relation to business theory, the culture of speculation at the end of the century, and arguments about the uncomfortable relationship between literary and financial capital, Victorian Literature and Finance sets new terms for understanding and theorizing the relationship between high finance and literary writing.