The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England

Overview

Usury is entrenched in the twenty-first century world. Recently, however, public opinion has been shifting back to the strongly hostile view of usury held by humanity for millennia before the rise of capitalism. This book examines the ways in which usury was perceived and portrayed at the very beginning of its rise to power. David Hawkes examines early modern English depictions of usury in a wide variety of literary media: plays, pamphlets, poems, political economy, and parliamentary debates. It suggests that ...

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Overview

Usury is entrenched in the twenty-first century world. Recently, however, public opinion has been shifting back to the strongly hostile view of usury held by humanity for millennia before the rise of capitalism. This book examines the ways in which usury was perceived and portrayed at the very beginning of its rise to power. David Hawkes examines early modern English depictions of usury in a wide variety of literary media: plays, pamphlets, poems, political economy, and parliamentary debates. It suggests that knowledge of such portrayals may help us settle accounts with the vastly expanded form taken by usury in our own time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Hawkes' brilliant anatomy of early modern usury illuminates a keyword of the period.  Revealing usury's connections to magic and witchcraft, sodomy, idolatry, unnatural birth, epicurean self-indulgence, consumer desire, and the death of hospitality, Hawkes argues that early modern people saw usury as unambiguously evil. The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England evokes a world in which ‘making money breed’ was assumed to destroy the soul and the possibility for just and charitable action. Learned, impassioned, and forcefully written, Hawkes' book uses the past to query many of the assumptions that govern contemporary life. A tour de force.”—Jean Howard, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University and Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230616264
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

David Hawkes is Professor of English at Arizona State University.  He is the author of Idols of the Marketplace, Ideology, The Faust Myth, and John Milton: A Hero Of Our Time.  Hawkes received a long-term fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his work has appeared in a wide range of academic and popular jourbanals, including The Nation, the Times Literary Supplement, the Jourbanal of the History of Ideas, Studies in English Literature, English Literary Renaissance, Milton Studies and Shakespeare Quarterly.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Debt and Deconstruction 1

1 "Howe is the Worlde Chaunged": The Emergence of Usury 13

2 The Aristotelian and Biblical Critiques 47

3 The Theological Critique 67

4 "Strange Metamorphosis": The Death of Hospitality 95

5 Magic, Labor, and Allegory: Imagining the Usurer 115

6 "Tramplers of Time": Alchemists, Goldsmiths, and Sodomites 139

Afterword 167

Notes 169

Bibliography 187

Index 195

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