Idols of the Marketplace: Idolatry and Commodity Fetishism in English Literature,1580-1680

Overview

Postmodern society seems incapable of elaborating an ethical critique of the market economy. Early modern society showed no such reticence. Between 1580 and 1680, Aristotelian teleology was replaced as the dominant mode of philosophy in England by Baconian empiricism. This was a process with implications for every sphere of life: for politics and theology, economics and ethics, and aesthetics and sexuality. Through nuanced and original readings of Shakespeare, Herbert, Donne, Milton, Traherne, Bunyan, and the ...

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Overview

Postmodern society seems incapable of elaborating an ethical critique of the market economy. Early modern society showed no such reticence. Between 1580 and 1680, Aristotelian teleology was replaced as the dominant mode of philosophy in England by Baconian empiricism. This was a process with implications for every sphere of life: for politics and theology, economics and ethics, and aesthetics and sexuality. Through nuanced and original readings of Shakespeare, Herbert, Donne, Milton, Traherne, Bunyan, and the antitheatrical controversy, David Hawkes sheds light on early modern debates over idolatry, financial value, and trade. Hawkes argues that the people of Renaissance England believed that the decline of telos resulted in a reified, fetishistic mode of consciousness which manifests itself in such phenomena as religious idolatry, commodity fetishism, and carnal sensuality. He suggests that the resulting early modern critique of the market economy has much to offer postmodern society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...provocative and fascinating readings of early modern texts by a knowledgeable and astute author."--Laura Lunger Knoppers, Albion
"Idols of the Marketplace is an excellent book: provocative, coherent and full of insight. It is hard to see how Renaissance culture can be read in quite the same way from now on."
--Times Literary Supplement

"...the argument is informed and au courant with the latest developments."--Maureen Quilligan, Studies in English Literature

"...does a fantastic job locating the Early Modern critique of capitalism within contemporary debates about 'idolatry'..."--Wendy Hyman, Seventeenth-Century News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312240073
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

David Hawkes is Associate Professor of English, Lehigh University. His first book, Ideology, was published in 1996.

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Table of Contents

Idolatry and Political Economy
• Commodity Fetishism and Theology
• Idolatry and Commodity Fetishism in Antitheatrical Controversy
• Sodomy, Usury and the Narrative of Shakespeare's Sonnets
• Typlogy and Objectification in George Herbert's The Temple
• Alchemical and Financial Value in the Poetry of John Donne
• The Politics of Character in Milton's Divorce Tracts
• Thomas Traherne: A Critique of Political Economy
• John Bunyan's One-Dimensional Man

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