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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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Speculative Fictions and the Fortunes of H. Rider Haggard

Speculative Fictions and the Fortunes of H. Rider Haggard

(p.157) 8 Speculative Fictions and the Fortunes of H. Rider Haggard
Victorian Literature and Finance

Francis O’Gorman

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores a set of finance-related divisions behind novelist Henry Rider Haggard's representations and proposes a fresh relationship between an aesthetic practice and the money markets. Heroes of romances often stand to acquire extensive fortunes, yet Haggard infrequently allows money to be their first motive or their noblest. Haggard's works are connected with another form of financial life in that his heroes are exceptional risk takers. They correspond in this respect with the financial adventurers about whom Haggard also wrote, the speculator and venture capitalist avant la lettre who was struggling to articulate his position at the end of the 19th century as a legitimate agent of economic progress. Plotting the profits of jeopardy, Haggard's fiction was in a more divided relationship with the conflictual discourses of the adventurer than his financial villains suggest. This chapter proposes that these divisions suggest a conflict in late Victorian understandings of speculation and its relation to economic progress itself.

Keywords:   finance, Victorian literature, Britain, Henry Rider Haggard, money markets, speculation, economics, divisions, aesthetics

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