In his “Preface to Major Barbara,” Shaw engages with a topic that he spent much of his life refining: the various importance of money. In this preface, he adds texture to his meditations by citing examples of the far-reaching influence of capital: its imbrication in “our social conscience” and its complicity in causing poverty. Understanding money’s pervasive effects, however, as Shaw lamented in his 1905 preface to The Irrational Knot (1880), was beyond his power: “[A]s I had no money, I had to blind myself to its enormous importance” (“Preface,” xxx). Under capitalism, this “enormous importance” often extends to an assessment of people but of oneself as well. Writing in 1921 to introduce Immaturity, a novel written over forty years earlier, Shaw suggests the connection between materiality and human subjectivity, suggesting money’s relationship to intensity of feeling, especially negative feeling or affect. In short, the same writer who in this preface deprecates psychoanalysis as a “craze” (xviii) formulates over his career what his contemporary Georg Simmel initially embarked upon as a scholar and expanded into a philosophy: namely, a psychology of money. This essay delineates the terms of this psychology.


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pp. 53-72
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