Literature and Inequality

Literature and Inequality

Nine Perspectives from the Napoleonic Era through the First Gilded Age

By Daniel Shaviro

Great works of literature, by the likes of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton, can help us to better understand the social ramifications of high-end inequality – not just in the authors' eras but today.

Hardback, 234 Pages

ISBN:9781785273667

March 2020

£29.99, $39.99

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links

About This Book

Today, high-end inequality in America and peer countries is at Gilded Age levels. These matters are too important and complicated to be left just to economists. A broader sociological and humanistic approach is necessary. Great works of literature, such as those by the likes of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton, are among the resources that can help us to better understand high-end inequality’s broader, culturally contingent, ramifications – not just in the authors’ own eras but today.

Daniel Shaviro’s Literature and Inequality offers a unique and accessible interdisciplinary take on how a number of great and beloved works from the nineteenth- and early-twentieth centuries help shed light on modern high-end inequality. In particular, Shaviro helps us to understand the relevance both of cultural differences between America and peer countries such as England and France, and of cultural commonalities between America’s First Gilded Age in the late-nineteenth century and its currently ongoing Second Gilded Age.

Reviews

“Literature and Inequality is an eye-opening and powerfully affecting book. By rereading literary classics through the lens of high-end inequality, and by emphasizing their fascination with the contest between patrimonial complacency and meritocratic ambition, Shaviro opens a new window into familiar texts. And by confronting us with the lessons of his readings, Shaviro compels a new reckoning with the rising high-end inequality and regenerated caste system that increasingly plague our own age.” —Daniel Markovits, Guido Calabresi Professor of Law, Yale Law School, USA, and Author of The Meritocracy Trap

Author Information

Daniel Shaviro is the Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation at New York University Law School, where his research focuses on tax policy and distributive justice. He is also the author of the satirical novel Getting It.

Series

No series for this title.

Table of Contents

Introduction; PART ONE: ENGLAND AND FRANCE DURING THE AGE OF REVOLUTION; Why Aren’t Things Better Than This? Class Relations Within the Top One Percent in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; A Rising Tide Rocks All Boats: The Threat of Rising Prosperity in Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir; Arrivistes, Rentiers, Mandarins, and Flunkies in Honoré de Balzac’s Le Père Goriot; PART TWO: ENGLAND FROM THE 1840S THROUGH THE START OF WORLD WAR I; Why Do “Scrooge Truthers” Hate Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?; Not to Blame? Plutocrats, Capitalism, and Foreigners in Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now; Unconnected: Rentier Intellectuals Uber Alles in E.M. Forster’s Howards End; PART THREE: GILDED AGE AMERICA; Anti-Success Manual? Mark Twain’s and Charles Dudley Warner’s The Gilded Age; No Success Like Failure? Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth; Superhero or Bungler? Frank Cowperwood / Charles Yerkes in Theodore Dreiser’s The Financier and The Titan; Conclusion; Index.

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