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"The Body Economic" revises the intellectual history of nineteenth-century Britain by demonstrating that political economists and the writers who often presented themselves as their literary antagonists actually held most of their basic social assumptions in common. Catherine Gallagher demonstrates that political economists and their Romantic and early-Victorian critics jo"The Body Economic" revises the intellectual history of nineteenth-century Britain by demonstrating that political economists and the writers who often presented themselves as their literary antagonists actually held most of their basic social assumptions in common. Catherine Gallagher demonstrates that political economists and their Romantic and early-Victorian critics jointly relocated the idea of value from the realm of transcendent spirituality to that of organic "life," making human sensations--especially pleasure and pain--the sources and signs of that value. Classical political economy, this book shows, was not a mechanical ideology but a form of nineteenth-century organicism, which put the body and its feelings at the center of its theories, and neoclassical economics built itself even more self-consciously on physiological premises."The Body Economic" explains how these shared views of life, death, and sensation helped shape and were modified by the two most important Victorian novelists: Charles Dickens and George Eliot. It reveals how political economists interacted crucially with the life sciences of the nineteenth century--especially with psychophysiology and anthropology--producing the intellectual world that nurtured not only George Eliot's realism but also turn-of-the-century literary modernism....

Title : The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel
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ISBN : 9780691123585
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 209 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Body Economic: Life, Death, and Sensation in Political Economy and the Victorian Novel Reviews

  • Kevin Varney
    2018-09-08 21:01

    I am pretty sure the natural home of this book is a university library. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed it. It is a difficult read but quite absorbing. Hard Times was the only one of the books discussed that I have read myself. I wondered, while reading it, whether Dickens was confused about what he was criticizing. It was philosophical, but not what I expected. The chapter straightened out some of my thoughts.I bought this book because it combined two of my interests: 19th century literature and economics. However, it also touches on another interest, sustainability. The discussion of Robert Malthus's ideas and the chapter on Our Mutual Friend reminded me a bit of the Emergy (Embodied solar energy) diagrams I studied as part of an MSc. I have not read Our Mutual Friend, but its premise sounds interesting.There are also two chapters dedicated to two of George Elliot's lesser read novels, Daniel Deronda and Scenes of Clerical Life. The economic angle of Daniel Deronda was more to do with the storyline being very different to Elliot's other books. Like many great artists, Elliot worried about repeating herself. Callagher likens this to a marginal rate of utility. (For example, if your mother sent you to school with three bananas in your packed lunch, you might swap a banana for an apple, because although you really like bananas, you don't like the third one as much as the first.)Callagher uses two definitions of economics that I had never heard of before: bio-economics and soma-economics. Bio-economics is related to the work of Robert Malthus' ideas. Populations increase until the food supply starts to fail, at which point life becomes a struggle to survive. Soma-economics relates to Jeremy Bentham's ideas of utility. People sacrifice part of their life to work be able to enjoy their leisure. Work is boring and tiring, but without it you couldn't afford to buy and do the things you want.Anyway, I am sure Catherine Gallagher's students enjoy her lectures.