Narrating Choice in Later Nineteenth-Century Novels and Neoclassical Economics
  • Amanpal Garcha
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Economics book series (PSLCE)


This chapter shows that literary depictions of individual choice undergo a pronounced change between the early and later parts of the nineteenth century. Earlier novelists depict characters facing a series of “yes or no” decisions; later ones show choice as expansive as characters contemplate many, simultaneously available options. This shift in representations of decision-making relates to the transformation of Great Britain into a consumer society, which in turn helped to produce “marginalist” economic theories. These theories posited consumption rather than production as the creator of value. Literary authors and marginalist economists represent choice in distinct but related ways: economists imagine that subjects order their preferences to maximize their satisfaction while literary authors show how subjects try but fail to prioritize their preferences.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanpal Garcha
    • 1
  1. 1.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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