restricted access A Little Fiction is Good for You: Currency Crisis, The Nation State, and Waugh's African Texts

This essay explores the affinities between modern fiction and modern currency in the context of the British currency crisis of 1931. It examines how Evelyn Waugh's satirical novel Black Mischief (1932) and its travelogue counterpart, Remote People (1931), rely upon presumptions about national-economic modernity that the novel simultaneously spoofs; such a posture, it is argued, generates a kind of reading that exposes the conventions involved in the naturalization of gold-backed currency and its link with British economic hegemony. In so doing, Black Mischief offers an expanded sense of fictionality to assuage the uncertainties of currency in the early 1930s.