TitleThe rise of public credit and the eighteenth-century English novel
NameRoxburgh, Natalie Suzanne (author), McKeon, Michael (chair), Dienst, Richard (internal member), Festa, Lynn (internal member), Murphy, Anne (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
English fiction—18th century,
DescriptionIt is no coincidence that the novel and public credit both emerged in the early part of the eighteenth century. The epistemological problem of belief unites both economic and novelistic discourses through the language of trust and credit. Unlike private credit, public credit did not operate with the assumption that repayment of the national debt was possible. The Bank of England issued more paper credit than it had bullion to back it, assuming that all creditors would never redeem their notes at once. Because public credit was therefore inherently problematic, writers often took recourse to literary techniques in order to render it coherent to the public whose trust was a factor in its success. Fiction can also prove credible without requiring a ground in empirical reality, much like public credit (which entails a translation of trust in tangible people to trust in abstractions meant to stand in for people: the Bank, the nation, the state, the public, and so on). Part of what makes the novel just that is its capacity to produce a virtual truth through its own narrative strategies, one that requires no tie to the empirical world that the work purports to represent. That is to say, virtue in the novel and virtue in public credit are both virtual. Examining the novel gives us insights into the way public credit works, and also into the way the discourse of political economy obscures its internal problems and contradictions.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Natalie Suzanne Roxburgh
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.