The Descent of Money: Literature, Inheritance, and Trust in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (1905) and John Galsworthy’s The Man of Property (1906)
Rob Hawkes’ paper argues that Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (1905) and John Galsworthy’s The Man of Property (1906) foreground, interrogate and enact questions of trust, both in their engagements with and departures from literary realism/naturalism and in their preoccupations with the value and power of money. Wharton’s novel is saturated with the language of costs, payments, investments, and debts, while the first of Galsworthy’s Forsyte novels presents ‘Forsyteism’ as an inescapable set of hereditary traits. Both texts, furthermore, implicitly associate money with nature and imagine a ‘sense of property’ as inherited in more ways than one, whilst simultaneously offering glimpses of a different understanding of money altogether: one that reveals surprising connections between literature, money, and trust.
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