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Victorian Literature and Finance$
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Francis O’Gorman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281923

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199281923.001.0001

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Cultural versus Financial Capital: Defining Literary Value at the Fin de Siècle

Cultural versus Financial Capital: Defining Literary Value at the Fin de Siècle

(p.173) 9 Cultural versus Financial Capital: Defining Literary Value at the Fin de Siècle
Victorian Literature and Finance

Josephine M. Guy

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to other tensions about financial value to make a forceful point about contemporary historians of culture. Oscar Wilde's relationship with capitalism was no simple matter of privileging high art over the demands of bourgeois values. Wilde may have appeared to have revived a Romantic distaste for associating the aesthetic with the financial. But he was also, of course, a writer needing to shape his work to suit the requirements of the market in which he published. Using Wilde, this chapter contemplates the hidden assumption of some critics working on the publishing history of the fin de siecle that understanding the material environment of a writer's work is enough. It maintains that the contemporary scholar of publishing history must always recognise limits to what an increased knowledge of an author's dealings with the market reveals. Without such recognition, important matters about form, authorial intention, and literary value are left unanswered.

Keywords:   finance, Victorian literature, Britain, culture, Oscar Wilde, capitalism, fin de siecle, literary value, publishing

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