Political Economy and the Novel

A Literary History of "Homo Economicus"

  • Sarah Comyn

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Sarah Comyn
    Pages 1-27
  3. Sarah Comyn
    Pages 29-61
  4. Sarah Comyn
    Pages 63-92
  5. Sarah Comyn
    Pages 93-132
  6. Sarah Comyn
    Pages 173-208
  7. Sarah Comyn
    Pages 249-254
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 255-283

About this book


Political Economy and the Novel: A Literary History of ‘Homo Economicus’ provides a transhistorical account of homo economicus (economic man), demonstrating this figure’s significance to economic theory and the Anglo-American novel over a 250-year period. Beginning with Adam Smith’s seminal texts – Theory of Moral Sentiments and The Wealth of Nations – and Henry Fielding’s A History of Tom Jones, this book combines the methodologies of new historicism and new economic criticism to investigate the evolution of the homo economicus model as it traverses through Ricardian economics and Jane Austen’s Sanditon; J. S. Mill and Charles Dickens’ engagement with mid-Victorian dualities; Keynesianism and Mrs Dalloway’s exploration of post-war consumer impulses; the a/moralistic discourses of Friedrich von Hayek, and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; and finally the virtual crises of the twenty-first century financial market and Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis. Through its sustained comparative analysis of literary and economic discourses, this book transforms our understanding of the genre of the novel and offers critical new understandings of literary value, cultural capital and the moral foundations of political economy.


political economic writings literary networks homo economicus American novels American literature novel theory genre theory John Maynard Keynes economics in novels Adam Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments The Wealth of Nations Henry Fielding A History of Tom Jones: a foundling Ricardian economics Jane Austen Sandition J.S. Mill Charles Dickens Don DeLillo Ayn Rand

Authors and affiliations

  • Sarah Comyn
    • 1
  1. 1.University College DublinDublinIreland

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-94324-4
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-94325-1
  • Buy this book on publisher's site