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Finance FictionsRealism and Psychosis in a Time of Economic Crisis$
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Arne De Boever

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279166

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279166.001.0001

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Revisiting The Bonfire of the Vanities

Revisiting The Bonfire of the Vanities

Chapter:
(p.25) One Revisiting The Bonfire of the Vanities
Source:
Finance Fictions
Author(s):

Arne De Boever

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823279166.003.0002

Following other critics of the so-called “finance fiction” or “fi-fi” genre, the chapter begins by observing that finance doesn’t play a major role in Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities: It is limited to the pages about a gold-backed bond and the neoliberalization of black power, an issue that Wolfe had already addressed in his earlier “Radical Chic.” Instead, the chapter identifies “psychosis” as a major theme in this contemporary finance fiction. While many critics have focused on racism in the novel, and in some cases on what they perceive to be the racism of the novel (which, in its avowedly all-inclusive representation of New York City privileges the upper-class white perspective), its revisionist reading lays bare what I consider to be the novel’s central drama: how both its white, upper-class protagonist Sherman McCoy and its black, lower-class protagonist Henry Lamb are caught up in psychotic situations created by money, politics, and the media—situations over which they have no control. The chapter ultimately turns to Cristina Alger’s The Darlings as an example of how this is borne out in post-2008 financial fiction.

Keywords:   Alger, Black Panthers, neoliberalism, postmodernism, realism, terror, Wolfe

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