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In this coda, Comyn examines the launch of the Jane Austen banknote, the emergence of cryptocurrencies, and their significance for debates about value and representation. These currencies, Comyn argues, return us to the (irrational) optimism that characterised the first financial speculations and crashes, and exposed the fictional elements of the economic system. Comyn demonstrates that regardless of the type of currency that circulates—whether specie, paper, or digital—the economic system always courts the imagination. The collision of the fictional and financial realms is not new. Instead, Comyn argues that the confluence of the imaginative and economic domains has always had a spectral presence in the history of economic theory and the novel; sometimes acknowledged, often ignored.


  • Financial Realm
  • Banknotes
  • Spectral Presence
  • Jane AustenAusten
  • EnglandBank

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-94325-1_8
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  1. 1.

    Mark Carney, “Remarks”, 25 July 2013, Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton,

  2. 2.

    The note also has a sense of pathos attached to it as it recalls one of the only remainders of Henry Austen’s failed bank: the £10 note at the British Museum.

  3. 3.

    Jean-Joseph Goux, “Cash, Check, or Charge?” in The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics, ed. Martha Woodmansee and Mark Osteen (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 114–127.

  4. 4.

    Carney, “Remarks”.

  5. 5.

    Satoshi Nakamoto, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, , 2,

  6. 6.

    See, for example, Adrian Blundell-Wignall, “The Bitcoin Question: Currency versus Trust-less Transfer Technology”, OECD Working Papers on Finance, Insurance and Private Pensions, No. 37, OECD Publishing, Paris (2014); Michael Franklin, “A Profile of Bitcoin Currency: An Exploratory Study”, International Journal of Business and Economics Perspectives 11, no. 1 (Spring 2016): 80–92; H. Halaburda and M. Sarvary, Beyond Bitcoin (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

  7. 7.

    See, for example, “Bitcoin Value Tops Gold for First Time”, BBC News, 3 March 2017,

  8. 8.

    See for example, Bill Maurera, Taylor C. Nelmsa and Lana Swartz, “ʻWhen perhaps the real problem is money itself!ʼ: The Practical Materiality of Bitcoin”, Social Semiotics 23:2 (2013): 261–277.

  9. 9.

    See, for example, Jason Bloomberg, “Bitcoin: ʻBlood Diamondsʼ of the Digital Era”, Forbes, 28 March 2017,

  10. 10.

    The information and explanatory videos provided by the official bitcoin website, explicitly use images and analogies of mining: “What is Bitcoin Mining?”, Bitcoin Mining,

  11. 11.

    John Barrett, “Ode to Satoshi (The Official Bitcoin song:)”, Youtube video, 3:17, 13 February 2016, posted by “Bitcoins and Gravy”,

  12. 12.

    An investigation into the misuse of computers at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) in March 2018 demonstrates how much energy is consumed by computers used for “mining”. Two BOM staff were accused of using the Bureau’s computers for bitcoin mining in an effort to “either avoid the significant electricity bill involved … or [to take] advantage of the bureau’s powerful computation power”. Dylan Welch, “Police Question Bureau of Meteorology Staff over Cryptocurrency Question”, ABC News, 8 March 2018,

  13. 13.

    Adrian Blundell-Wignall, “The Bitcoin Question”, 8.

  14. 14.

    Literary critics, too, are learning how to read and apply code. The most famous proponents of computational criticism and quantitative literary history, the members of the Stanford Literary Lab, have been instrumental in creating new ways of reading literature, while acknowledging that they “must still learn to ask the right questions”. See Mark Algee-Hewitt, et al, “Canon/Archive. Large-scale Dynamics in the Literary Field”, Literary Lab Pamphlet, 11 (January 2016): 2. The influential work of Katherine N. Hayles, equally demonstrates the productive nature of examining the relationship between literature and technology, language and code. See, for example, Katherine N. Hayles, My Mother was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts (Chicago: University of Chicago press, 2005).

  15. 15.

    Maurera, Nelmsa, and Swartz, “‘When perhaps the real problem is money itself!’”, 269.

  16. 16.

    Tom Powell, “Micro-engraved £5 note worth up to £50,000 enters circulation”, The Evening Standard, 12 December 2016; Peter Walker, “Check your fivers! Last remaining Jane Austen £5 note ʻcould be anywhere in the worldʼ”, The Telegraph, 19 February 2017.

  17. 17.

    See, for example, Nava Ashraf, Colin Camerer and George F. Loewenstein, “Adam Smith, Behavioral Economist”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 19, no. 3 (Summer 2005): 131–145.

  18. 18.

    Clifford Siskin, The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700–1830 (Baltimore; London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998).

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Comyn, S. (2018). Coda. In: Political Economy and the Novel. Palgrave Studies in Literature, Culture and Economics. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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