Shakespeare's Twenty-First Century Economics: The Morality of Love and Money

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"I love you according to my bond," says Cordelia to her father in King Lear. As the play turns out, Cordelia proves to be an exemplary and loving daughter. A bond is both a legal or financial obligation, and a connection of mutual love. How are these things connected? In As You Like It, Shakespeare describes marriage as a "blessed bond of board and bed": the emotional, religious, and sexual sides of marriage cannot be detached from its status as a legal and economic contract.

These examples are the pith of Frederick Turner's fascinating new book. Based on the proven maxim that "money makes the world go round," this engaging study draws from Shakespeare's texts to present a lexicon of common words, as well as a variety of familiar familial and cultural situations, in an economic context. Making constant recourse to well-known material from Shakespeare's plays, Turner demonstrates that the terms of money and value permeate our minds and lives even in our most mundane moments. His book offers a new, humane, evolutionary economics that fully expresses the moral, spiritual, and aesthetic relationships among persons, and between humans and nature. Playful and incisive, Turner's book offers a way to engage the wisdom of Shakespeare in everyday life in a trenchant prose that is accessible to lovers of Shakespeare at all levels.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Whereas many critics have attempted to fracture the myth of the all-knowing, all-wise Shakespeare, Turner argues compellingly that his work is remarkably insightful regarding 300 years of history and can be used to examine current socioeconomic issues....Readers will find food for thought in [this] gracefully presented text."—Library Journal

"[Shows] us Shakespeare [the] Jacobean 'media tycoon.' [Turner] sees [the plays] as a serial advertisement for capitalism....[An] odd, intriguing book."—he New York Observer

Library Journal
Mixing criticism, economics, and self-help, Turner (English, Univ. of Texas, Dallas) proposes that an examination of Shakespeare's plays will provide us with a wiser and more complex view of the economic bonds that form the basis of human relationships. He sees Shakespeare as a forefather of a line of thinkers who espoused ideas we may not presently be comfortable with (e.g., that the "establishment of just government is fundamentally a matter of property rights and only secondarily one of political or even human rights") but that have been reinforced by recent world events. Whereas many recent critics have attempted to fracture the myth of the all-knowing, all-wise Shakespeare, Turner argues compellingly that his work is remarkably insightful regarding 300 years of history and can be used to examine current socioeconomic issues. While some assumptions and a lack of scholarly detail may prove frustrating, readers will certainly find food for thought in this otherwise gracefully presented text. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.--Karen E. Sadowski, Norwood, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195128611
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Understanding Money
2. "Great Creating Nature": How Human Economics Grows out of Natural Increase
3. "Nothing Will Come of Nothing": The Love Bond and the Meaning of Zero
4. "My Purse, My Purse": How Bonds Connect People and Property, Souls and Bodies
5. "The Quality of Mercy is Not Strained": Why Justice Must be Lubricated with Mercy
6. "Never Call a True Piece of Gold a Counterfeit": How Does One Stamp a Value on a Coin and Make it Stick?
7. "Thou Owest God a Death": Debt, Time, and the Parable of the Talents
8. "Bounty...That Grew the More for Reaping": Why Creation Enters into Bonds
9. "Dear Life Redeems You": The Economics of Resurrection
10. "O Brave New World": Shakespeare and the Economic Failure
Bibliography (Suggestions for Further Reading)

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2008

    Economy, Liberty, and Shakspeare

    This brilliant book provides two services. One, it provides the reader with a reading of Shakespeare that is unique and corrects a long tradition of anti-economic thinkers in the humanities who have interpreted Shakespeare's works and thus ignored the language of economics Shakespeare does in fact use throughout his plays. Two, it provides a clear and compelling argument for understanding economic interactions as ethical actions. Value is created through free and open trade between people. And, Turner argues (correctly, I think), there is no mistake the language of economics and ethics being identical. Words like value, interest, bond, security, trust -- one could go on and on -- are the language of ethics and of economics. They identify a fundamental reality that exists in both realms, and which connect both realms. Shakespeare, Turner beautifully demonstrates, began to recognize these connections just as free markets were beginning to form. That this reality in Shakespeare's works has been overlooked is a shame; that Turner has rectified that is marvelous.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2001

    Business as beacon for a Culture of Hope

    If you are trying to ¿Escape from Modernism,¿ to transcend the ironical postmodern culture of despair with a ¿Culture of Hope,¿ this book will enchant you. If you believe that the world is drenched in racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, not to mention US imperialism, then this book may teach you a lesson. In ¿Shakespeare¿ Turner finds it intriguing that business uses words like ¿bond¿ ¿trust¿ ¿interest¿ and ¿honor¿ that are used in social discourse to describe moral and social obligations. Could it be that business is a moral and social endeavor that holds its participants to the highest standards and not a criminal conspiracy of robber barons? Here¿s another interesting topic that Turner examines: when businessmen sign a contract, they condemn themselves to break it. For no contract can include every detail or foresee every contingency. That pound of flesh, for instance, did it include blood spillage, or not? So how do you deal with broken contracts? With give and take--with mercy--that¿s how. You know: ¿the quality of mercy is not strained¿¿ And Shakespeare figured it all out 400 yearas ago.

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