Advertisement

“Tramplers of Time”: Alchemists, Goldsmiths, and Sodomites

Chapter
  • 47 Downloads

Abstract

With the possible exception of Milton, no figure of the English Renaissance was as personally and professionally interested in usury as Thomas Middleton. Many early modern dramatists deal with the ideological and psychological effects of finance, but Middleton places the rise of the money power at the very center of his concerns. In his plays money, and especially the autonomous animation that money acquires in usury, becomes, and is shown to be, the determining element behind action and character. This is what made his work relevant and appealing to his contemporaries, who were much exercised by the novel force of finance, and perhaps it is also what obscured his importance over the last two centuries, when that force successfully concealed its extent and nature from the popular consciousness. The literary criticism of that period relegated Middleton to a subsidiary status, and critics seem largely to have missed the significance of his financial themes. Yet those themes surely explain why the postmodern era is starting to appreciate the depth of Middleton’s insights. The postmodern condition involves a new recognition of money’s vital role in the shaping of society and the formation of subjectivity, and Middleton was one of the first observers to record these processes in realistic detail.1

Keywords

Early Modern Period Paper Money Late Sixteenth Century Popular Consciousness Play Money 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    References to Middleton are from Gary Taylor (ed.), Collected Works (Oxford UP, 2007).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See Eric Leonidas, “The School of the World: Trading on Wit in Mid-dleton’s Trick to Catch the Old One,” Early Modern Literary Studies 12.3 (Jan. 2007): 3.1–27.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Cit. John M. Houkes (ed.), An Annotated Bibliography on the History of Usury and Interest (Edwin Mellon P: Lewiston NY, 2004), 195.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    See David Hawkes, The Faust Myth: Religion and the Rise of Representation (New York: Palgrave, 2007).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 21.
    See Hans-Christophe Binswanger, Money and Magic: A Critique of Modern Economy in the Light of Goethe’s “Faust” (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996).Google Scholar
  6. 22.
    Jean-Joseph Goux, The Coiners of Language. Trans. Jennifer Curtiss Gage (Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1994), 110.Google Scholar
  7. 23.
    Ben Jonson, Mercury Vindicated from the Alchemists at Court in Ben Jonson: Selected Masques. Stephen Orgel (ed.) (Yale UP, 1970), 132.Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    See George Soros, The Alchemy of Finance: Reading the Mind of the Market (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1994).Google Scholar
  9. 29.
    Janelle Day Jenstad, “‘The City Cannot Hold You’: Social Conversion in the Goldsmith’s Shop,” Early Modern Literary Studies 8.2 (Sept. 2002): 5.1–26, quotation from 5–6. Retrieved from http://extra.shu.ac.uk/emls/08–2/jensgold.html, September 23, 2009.Google Scholar
  10. See also Jenstad’s “‘The Gouldesmythes Storehowse’: Early Evidence for Specialisation,” The Silver Society Journal 10 (1998): 40–43.Google Scholar
  11. Richard Helgerson notes how “Heywood’s Jane Shore became the representational conduit of both power and value,” “Weeping for Jane Shore,” South Atlantic Quarterly 98.3 (1999): 451–76, quotation from 462.Google Scholar
  12. See also Daryl W. Palmer, “Edward IV’s Secret Familiarities and the Politics of Proximity in Elizabethan History Plays,” ELH 61.2 (1994): 279–315,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. and Maria M. Scott, Re-Presenting “Jane” Shore: Harlot and Heroine (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005).Google Scholar
  14. 30.
    Cit. Simon Wortham. “Sovereign Counterfeits: The Trial of the Pyx,” Renaissance Quarterly 49 (1996): 334–59, citation from 338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 32.
    Cit. Max W. Thomas, “Eschewing Credit: Heywood, Shakespeare and Plagiarism before Copyright,” New Literary History 31.2 (2000): 277–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 36.
    See David Hawkes, “Sodomy, Usury and the Narrative of Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” Renaissance Studies 14.3 (Sept 2000): 344–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 37.
    See Mario Digangi, The Homoerotics of Early Modern Drama (Cambridge UP, 1997), 70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 38.
    Swapan Chakravorty, Society and Politics in the Plays of Thomas Middleton (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1996), 46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 39.
    See David Hawkes, “Sodomy, Usury and the Narrative of Shakespeare’s Sonnets,” Renaissance Studies 14.3 (Sept. 2000): 344–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 40.
    The Non-Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, Alexander Grosart (ed.) (The Huth Library, 1885), 2:136.Google Scholar
  21. 41.
    Ben Jonson, Epigrams and the Forest, Richard Dutton (ed.) (Manchester: Fyfield, 1984), 46.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Hawkes 2010

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations