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Introduction: Literature and Money I first came to consider the relationship between literature and money when I began researching for a monograph on the Victorian ghost story. I was struck by how many of the tales by Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and the terribly neglectedJ. H. Riddell, made connections between ghosts and money, as if money (especially its ownership) rendered the subject peculiarly spectral. However, money was not, as this special issue illustrates, a solely, or merely, ghosdy presence for the Victorians who were confronted by a palpable series of financial crises (in 1837, 1847, 1857, 1866, and 1878) and went through the hardship of economic depression in the 1840s (or 'hungry forties' as they are often referred to). The Victorians also had to confront wide-sweeping changes to financial institutions, including periodic changes to the banking system itself. This was also a time characterised by financial scandals, such as the setting up of bogus companies by unscrupulous 'entrepreneurs' who raised money by public subscriptions to help support projects which were never developed (for a time the setting up of fictitious railway companies became a popular means of cashing in on the supposed benefits of the industrial revolution). Legitimate institutions were not immune from scandal, an issue made clear in 1860 when George Pullinger, the Chief Cashier of the Union Bank of London was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to twenty years transportation for his troubles.1 The Victorian period also, of course, witnessed the rise of various radical commentators such as Marx and Engels, who attempted to highlight the economic inequities and ideological inconsistencies engendered by the capitalist system. The issue of money was central Victorian Review (2005) A. Smith to the theories of political economy developed by Bentham, J. S. Mills, Ricardo, and Jevons. At the end of the century the sociologist Georg Simmel in The Philosophy of Money (1900) would develop a non-Marxist appraisal of the system which attempted to account for the place of subjectivity in the formation of an object-orientated economic system. All of this indicates that how to discuss money, intellectually, morally, politically, and even economically, was subject to considerable contestation. It is diis process of contestation that this special issue explores. The 'call for papers' which advertised this special issue sought to solicit contributions which moved beyond a purely class based, stricdy Marxist, appraisal of literature from the period. This was not to suggest that contributors were meant to ignore the obvious class divisions which emerged during the period, but rather were to consider how money was either represented within texts, or how conceptualisations of money came to influence certain modes of representation (back to the idea of ghosts, which is the central issue of my own contribution). In part this was to acknowledge that the kind of intellectual diversity and literary complexity which characterises the period could be helpfully illuminated by thinking about the role that money played in shaping certain modes of literary consciousness . Scholarship on the relationship between literature and money during the period is indebted to the pioneering work of Mary Poovey (who is represented in this issue). Her chapter on David Copperfield (184950 ) in Uneven Developments: The Ideological Work of Genderin Mid-Victorian England (1988) played an important role in reconsidering the relationship between author, authority, gender, and money. Other major critical studies by Poovey and others have helped to consolidate diis as an area of academic inquiry. Special conferences and conference panels which have addressed this issue in recent years also evidence continuing interest in the topic What is striking about this interest is how it appeals to academics working in a variety of national contexts. Whilst this bears testimony to the internationalisation of such research, it also (perhaps ironically?) mimics the reaches volume 31 number 2 Introduction of the global economy which has helped to place money firmly at the centre of our understanding of the modern world. How to write about money and literature in ways which do not simply define money in class terms, is not to depoliticise the issue of money (a move which could make such discussion ideologically complicit with the activities of a money-based economy), but is to acknowledge...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 5-9
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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