Realizing Capital: Financial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form (Hardback)Anna Kornbluh (author)
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During a tumultuous period when financial speculation began rapidly to outpace industrial production and consumption, Victorian financial journalists commonly explained the instability of finance by criticizing its inherent artifice-drawing persistent attention to what they called "fictitious capital." In a shift that naturalized this artifice, this critique of fictitious capital virtually disappeared by the 1860s, replaced by notions of fickle investor psychology and mental equilibrium encapsulated in the fascinating metaphor of "psychic economy."
In close rhetorical readings of financial journalism, political economy, and the works of Dickens, Eliot, and Trollope, Kornbluh examines the psychological framing of economics, one of the nineteenth century's most enduring legacies, reminding us that the current dominant paradigm for understanding financial crisis has a history of its own. She shows how novels illuminate this displacement and ironize ideological metaphors linking psychology and economics, thus demonstrating literature's unique facility for evaluating ideas in process. Inheritors of this novelistic project, Marx and Freud each advance a critique of psychic economy that refuses to naturalize capitalism.
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Number of pages: 232
Weight: 454 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 25 mm
"This highly original and far-reaching book puts Marx and Freud into an exciting new dialogue with the Victorian novel. Kornbluh reads these imposing thinkers as engaged in the same project as the realist novelists, all of them struggling to defamiliarize the frighteningly fictitious character of capital. Offering thrilling new insights into Great Expectations, Middlemarch, and The Way We Live Now, this book culminates in a tour de force reading of Marx's Capital as a Bildungsroman and a radical rethinking of Freud's 'psychic economy.'" -- Caroline Levine, author of Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network
"For Kornbluh, realism written in the 19th-century blossoming of finance capitalism performs much of the same work as political theory. She works with a specifically Marxist framework, but instead of subjugating literature to a Marxist program, her version of 'aesthetic mediation' finds similar historical, aesthetic, scientific, and political thought in Marx's metaphors and in the critiques embodied in novels." * LA Review of Books *
"Realizing Capital should be essential reading for anyone wishing to follow cutting edge work on the form of the Victorian novel." -- Adela Pinch * Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 *
"By tracing the cultural circulation of two specific tropes - "fictitious capital" and "psychic economy" - Kornbluh makes a compelling argument about the complex figurative ties that bind the realist novel to our understanding of both capitalism and the psyche. This exciting and original book will make us reconsider the novel's cultural work as well as that of its criticism." -- Mario Ortiz-Robles * University of Wisconsin-Madison *
"...impressively researched, highly inventive, and powerfully driven by original close readings of nineteenth-century fiction and non-fiction." -- Zarena Aslami, Michigan State University
"...an exceptionally insightful and important book, one that will fascinate and enable readers interested in capitalism and culture in the modern era." * Victorian Studies *
Kornbluh's book, beautifully argued, makes the case for a return to material and psychoanalytic critique through formalist methods allied with the 'best historicist impulses'... Realizing Capital is invaluable for its reminder that 'the financial metaphors' of the Victorian period not only structured realism itself but continue to fundamentally 'corrugate our world'. * The British Society for Literature and Science *