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The Intersection of Material and Poetic Economy

Gustav Freytag’s "Soll und Haben</I> and Adalbert Stifter’s "Der Nachsommer</I>


Anna Helm

This work explores the intersection of the material and poetic economies in Soll und Haben and Der Nachsommer. It demonstrates how the main poetical strategies of the two novels, dichotomization ( Soll und Haben) and total economization ( Der Nachsommer), are defined by economic themes, structures, and forms. The «economopoetics» of the novels, i.e. the multitude of connections between economics and aesthetics, pervades the texts on three different levels: as content, as representational model, and as literary strategy. Although very different in their treatment of topics relating to business and economics, both novels are driven by narratives parsed with economic expression. The diverging patterns of economopoetics support central commentaries on their underlying realist aesthetics. One important finding is that, in spite of money’s apparent absence from the core content of some literary texts, economic relations are inherent in the narrative structure of those texts. The book shows that economopoetics is relevant not only to any extant literature which attempts explicitly to thematize business and economics (such as Soll und Haben), but also to that which does not (such as Der Nachsommer). Economic organizing principles are pervasive signatures of the novel’s aesthetic.
Contents: The Discourse of Money in Literature – Soll und Haben: The Pursuit of Bourgeois Material and Poetic Wealth: Poesy and Commodity Exchange - Representation, Credit, and Credibility - Bookkeeping and the Fair Price – Der Nachsommer: The Aesthetics of Economics: Money, Consumption, and the Capitalist Economy - The Accumulation of Wealth and Collecting - Work, Usefulness, and the Productive Use of Time.