The Economy of Literature

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JHU Press, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 176 pages

Why did coinage, tyranny, and philosophy develop in the same time and place? Marc Shell explores how both money and language give "worth" by providing a medium of exchange, how the development of money led to a revolution in philosophical thought and language, and how words transform mere commodities into symbols at once aesthetic and practical. Offering carefully documented interpretations of texts from Heraclitus, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, and Ruskin, Shell demonstrates the kinship between literary and economic theory and production, introduces new methods of analyzing texts, and shows how literary and philosophical fictions can help us understand the world in which we live.


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art began to be based on another practice - politics.


The Ring of Gyges
Rousseaus Theory of Verbal
John Ruskin and the Political Economy of Literature

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About the author (1993)

Marc Shell is professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of The Economy of Literature and Money, Language, and Thought, also available from Johns Hopkins .

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