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Realizing CapitalFinancial and Psychic Economies in Victorian Form$
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Anna Kornbluh

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254972

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254972.001.0001

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. The Economic Problem of Sympathy

. The Economic Problem of Sympathy

Parabasis and Interest in Middlemarch

Chapter:
(p.65) 3. The Economic Problem of Sympathy
Source:
Realizing Capital
Author(s):

Anna Kornbluh

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254972.003.0004

Middlemarch famously admonishes “we all of us get our thoughts entangled in metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of them” – and it remarkably indicts “psychic economy” as the archetype of bad metaphor. This chapter argues that this most paradigmatic of nineteenth-century novels is animated in both plot and narrative mode by concerns about economies of affect. Strange structures of narrative self-reflexivity, called “parabases,” result from these concerns; these structures also model the self-referential logic of financial interest, an important object of the Bank of England Charter Act of 1833, when the novel is set. As Middlemarch carefully engages the permutations of “interest” as financial instrument and affective state in its reflections on its own scale and in its conflicts over the proper scope for its heroine’s philanthropic sympathy, it opens a wary eye toward rhetorical exchanges of economics and emotions of the type crystallized by “psychic economy.”

Keywords:   Eliot, Parabasis, Bank of England, Interest, Psychic economy, Metaphor

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