The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England

Hardcover | April 15, 2010

byDavid Hawkes

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Usury is entrenched in the twenty-first century world.  Recently, however, public opinion has been shifting back to the strongly hostile view of usury held by humanity for millennia before the rise of capitalism.  This book examines the ways in which usury was perceived and portrayed at the very beginning of its rise to power.  David Hawkes examines early modern English depictions of usury in a wide variety of literary media: plays, pamphlets, poems, political economy, and parliamentary debates. It suggests that knowledge of such portrayals may help us settle accounts with the vastly expanded form taken by usury in our own time.

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Usury is entrenched in the twenty-first century world.  Recently, however, public opinion has been shifting back to the strongly hostile view of usury held by humanity for millennia before the rise of capitalism.  This book examines the ways in which usury was perceived and portrayed at the very beginning of its rise to power.  David H...

David Hawkes is Professor of English at Arizona State University.  He is the author of Idols of the Marketplace, Ideology, The Faust Myth, and John Milton: A Hero Of Our Time.  Hawkes received a long-term fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his work has appeared in a wide range of academic and popular journa...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:210 pages, 8.53 × 5.77 × 0.68 inPublished:April 15, 2010Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230616267

ISBN - 13:9780230616264

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Debt and Deconstruction * “How is the World Chaunged”: The Emergence of Usury * The Aristotelian and Biblical  * The Theological Critique * “Strange Metamorphosis”: The Death of Hospitality * Of Misers and Hogs * “Tramplers of Time”: Alchemists, Goldsmiths, and Sodomites * Afterword

Editorial Reviews

“Hawkes' brilliant anatomy of early modern usury illuminates a keyword of the period.  Revealing usury's connections to magic and witchcraft, sodomy, idolatry, unnatural birth, epicurean self-indulgence, consumer desire, and the death of hospitality, Hawkes argues that early modern people saw usury as unambiguously evil. The Culture of Usury in Renaissance England evokes a world in which ‘making money breed’ was assumed to destroy the soul and the possibility for just and charitable action. Learned, impassioned, and forcefully written, Hawkes' book uses the past to query many of the assumptions that govern contemporary life. A tour de force.”—Jean Howard, George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University and Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature