The early eighteenth century saw a far-reaching financial revolution in England, whose impact on the literature of the period has hitherto been relatively unexplored. In this original study, Colin Nicholson reads familiar texts such as Gulliver's Travels, The Beggar's Opera and The Dunciad as 'capital satires', responding to the social and political effects of the installation of capitalist financial institutions in London. The founding of the Bank of England and the inauguration of the National Debt permanently altered the political ecomy of England: the South Sea Bubble disaster of 1721 educated a political generation into the money markets. While they invested in stocks and shares, Swift, Pope and Gay conducted a campaign against the civic effects of these new financial institutions. Conflict between these writers' inherited discourse of civic humanism and the transformations being undergone by their own society, is shown to have had a profound effect on a number of key literary texts.
Cambridge University Press
Date of Publication
Cambridge Studies in Eighteenth-Century English Literature & Thought