Economics as Literature (Routledge Studies in the History of by Willi Henderson

By Willi Henderson

A wealthy vein of economics writings which runs in the course of the 19th century and past is now mostly overlooked simply because its authors have been girls or simply because they favoured literary over clinical kinds. Economics as Literature re-examines one of the most attention-grabbing texts from inside of this tradition.The works thought of include:*stories (eg by means of Maria Edgeworth and Harriet Martineau)*dialogues (eg via Jane Marcet and Thomas de Quincey)*'imaginative' writing (eg from Ruskin and Francis Edgeworth)*Keynes' basic concept that's locked inside a 19th century 'tradition' of uniting technology and paintings.

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19 We must not, however, overlook Byron’s comment, inspired by didactic elements, that ‘Miss Edgeworth’s Cupid must be a Presbyterian’. Quoted in Armytage (1946: 251). 20 For a detailed analysis of the educational moves in Marcet’s Conversations on Political Economy, see Chapter 3. 21 Jane Marcet was a friend of Maria Edgeworth and was aware of the Edgeworths’ educational writing. 22 This judgement must be treated with care. ‘The Purple Jar’ does superimpose an ‘economic’ structure on the narrative but even here this is less than the way in which worked out economic doctrines impinge upon the story line in much of Martineau’s writings.

Although the canonical texts in economics were to stress individualism, Edgeworth stresses the social nature of production. Production is embedded in a co-operative society in which negotiation rather than coercion, say, through the price mechanism, is the desired or ideal state of society. The children co-operate by choice. Owen is excluded by his own uncooperative actions. It is interesting that Jane Marcet, through Caroline, the young student in Conversations on Political Economy, often objects to economic ideas by reflecting upon social implications.

6) that others are predisposed to help him in his projects. Jem has a goal and works steadily towards it. He is capable of work but more than this, he is capable of entrepreneurial activity. When he sees a market opportunity such as selling fossils, being useful or making mats, he takes it. His goal adds structure and meaning to his life, he is the entrepreneur as hero, made noble by the virtue of his goal and the social usefulness of his labour. When he has made only ‘four and seven-pence’ of the two guineas that he must raise, for, in accordance with Humean ideas, Jem is allowed to contemplate ‘the daily increase of his fortune’ (Hundert, 1974, quoting Hume: 142) Lawrence asks him what he intends to do with the money.

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