The ‘Invisible Hand’ and British Fiction, 1818–1860

Adam Smith, Political Economy, and the Genre of Realism

  • Eleanor Courtemanche

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction: Capitalist Moral Philosophy, Narrative Technology, and the Boundaries of the Nation-State

  3. Reading Adam Smith

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 19-19
  4. Early Nineteenth-Century Novels and Invisible Hand Social Theory

  5. Conclusion: Realist Capitalism, Gothic Capitalism

    1. Eleanor Courtemanche
      Pages 195-197
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 198-251

About this book


The 'invisible hand', Adam Smith's metaphor for the morality of capitalism, is explored in this text as being far more subtle and intricate than is usually understood, with many British realist fiction writers (Austen, Dickens, Gaskell, Eliot) having absorbed his model of ironic causality in complex societies and turned it to their own purposes.


Adam Smith Charles Dickens fiction George Eliot Jane Austen Narrative novel political economy realism technology

Authors and affiliations

  • Eleanor Courtemanche
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUSA

Bibliographic information