Advertisement

The Honest Merchant Before Adam Smith: The Genesis and Rise of a Literary Prototype in Britain

  • Laurenz VolkmannEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Ethical Economy book series (SEEP, volume 56)

Abstract

This contribution outlines the genesis and rise of the merchant in British literature from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century. It charts a chequered history of early rejection, lingering skepticism with regard to the mercantile life and a slow, gradual, though never uncontroversial acceptance of merchants. This growing acceptance is mainly tied to the evolving positive image of trade and its function of promoting national as well as global wealth. By means of a literary tour d’horizon significant phases of this development up to Adam Smith’s homo oeconomicus are sketched out, with reference to texts by key authors such as Langland, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Bunyan and Mandeville.

Primary Literature

  1. George Lillo. 1965. The London Merchant, ed. William H. McBurney. London: Edward Arnold.Google Scholar
  2. George Warner, ed. 1926. The Libelle of Englyshe Polycye: A poem on the use of sea-power. [ca. 1436]. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  3. Langland, William. 1994. Piers Plowman: The C-text. [ca. 1362–1393], ed. Derek Pearsall. Exeter: University of Exeter Press.Google Scholar
  4. Mandeville, Bernard. 1988. The Fable of the bees or private vices, publick benefits [1705/1714]. 2 vols, ed. F.B. Kaye. Indianapolis: Liberty Press.Google Scholar
  5. Shakespeare, William. 1949. The complete works of William Shakespeare, ed. W.J. Craig. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Smith, Adam. 1981. An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations, 2 vols, ed. R.H. Campbell, A.S. Skinner; textual ed. W.B. Todd. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar
  7. ———. 1984. The theory of moral sentiments, ed. D.D. Raphael and A.L. Macfie. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Beckert, Jens. 2011. The transcending power of goods: Imaginative value in the economy. In The worth of goods. Valuation & pricing in the economy, ed. Beckert Jens and Patrik Aspers, 106–130. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Benson, John, and Laura Ugolini, eds. 2003. A nation of shopkeepers: Five centuries of British retailing. London: Tauris.Google Scholar
  3. Breuer, Horst. 1979. Vorgeschichte des Fortschritts: Studien zur Historizität und Aktualität des Dramas der Shakespearezeit: Marlowe – Shakespeare – Jonson. München: Wilhelm Fink.Google Scholar
  4. Guttandin, Friedhelm. 1998. Einführung in die Protestantische Ethik Max Webers. Opladen/Westfalen: Westdeutscher Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hempel, Dirk, and Christine Künzel, eds. 2009. “Denn wovon lebt der Mensch?” Literatur und Wirtschaft. Frankfurt a. M: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  6. Hirschman, Albert O. 1977. The passions and the interest: Political arguments for capitalism before its triumph. Princeton: Princeton UP.Google Scholar
  7. Kirchgässner, Gebhard. 1991. Homo oeconomicus: Das ökonomische Modell individuellen Verhaltens und seine Anwendung in den Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften. Tübingen: Mohr.Google Scholar
  8. Kohl, Stephan. 1986. Das englische Spätmittelalter: Kulturelle Normen, Lebenspraxis, Texte. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. McVeagh, John. 1981. Tradefull merchants: The portrayal of the capitalist in literature. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  10. Mein, Georg, and Franziska Schößler. 2005. Tauschprozesse. Kulturwissenschaftliche Verhandlungen des Ökonomischen. Bielefeld: Transcript.Google Scholar
  11. Nicholson, Colin. 1994. Writing and the rise of finance: Capital satires of the early eighteenth century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Oncken, August. 1898. Das Adam Smith-problem. Zeitschrift für Socialwissenschaft 1: 25–33, 101–108, 276–287.Google Scholar
  13. Pires, Edmundo Balsemão, and Joaquim Braga, eds. 2015. Bernard de Mandeville’s tropology of paradoxes. Morals, politics, economics, and therapy. London: Springer.Google Scholar
  14. Prinz, Michael. 2003. Aufbruch in den Überfluss? Die englische ‘Konsumrevolution’ des 18. Jahrhunderts im Lichte der neueren Forschung. In Der lange Weg in den Überfluss. Anfänge und Entwicklung der Konsumgesellschaft seit der Vormoderne, ed. Michael Prinz, 191–217. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.Google Scholar
  15. Reichert, Klaus. 1985. Fortuna oder die Beständigkeit des Wechsels. Frankfurt a. M: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  16. Riedel, Wolfgang. 1990. ‘Die unsichtbare Hand’: Ökonomie, Sittlichkeit und Kultur der englischen Mittelklasse (1650–1850). Tübingen: Narr.Google Scholar
  17. Southall, Raymond. 1973. Literature and the rise of capitalism: Critical essays mainly on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  18. Suerbaum, Ulrich. 1996. Shakespeares Dramen. Tübingen/Basel: Francke.Google Scholar
  19. Tillyard, E.M.W. 1963 [1943]. The Elizabethan world picture. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  20. Veeser, H. Aram, ed. 1994. The new historicism reader. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Volkmann, Laurenz. 2001. Mandeville’s beehive and Smith’s invisible hand: Conflicting voices of ethics and economics in early industrialism. In Talking forward, talking back: Critical dialogues with the enlightenment, ed. Kevin Cope and Rüdiger Ahrens, 13–42. New York: AMS Press.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 2003. Homo oeconomicus: Studien zur Modellierung eines neuen Menschenbilds in der englischen Literatur vom Mittelalter bis zum 18. Jahrhundert. Heidelberg: C. Winter.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 2007. Back with a vengeance: The return of Bernard Mandeville. In Anglistentag 2006 Halle. Proceedings, ed. Sabine Volk-Birke and Julia Lippert, 45–52. Trier: WVT.Google Scholar
  24. Watts, Michael, ed. 2003. The literary book of economics: Including readings from literature and drama on economic concepts, issues, and themes. Wilmington: ISI-Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of JenaJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations