‘A deeper nature’: Malthus, Poetry, and Political Economy
The year 1798 has traditionally enjoyed a certain prominence in the canons of both English literature and economic thought. In each case, however, the justification for such distinction can no longer be considered entirely self-evident. For historians of political economy, 1798 is notable, above all, as the year in which Thomas Robert Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population first appeared. There is no doubt of the tremendous influence of this work, nor of the enduring notoriety it quickly achieved. According to Malthus's ‘population principle’, population growth will always tend to outstrip the means of subsistence. More recently, the idea that Malthus's Essay marked a significant step towards a positivist, secular science of economics has become rather more contentious.
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