Modernism and Macroeconomics

Authored by: Michael Tratner

The Routledge Companion to Literature and Economics

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138190870
eBook ISBN: 9781315640808
Adobe ISBN:


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The word “macroeconomics” first appeared in print in 1945, a bit too late to be considered one of the sources of Modernist literary innovations. Furthermore, it alludes to such things as “aggregate demand” and “gross domestic product,” concepts that seem far removed from T.S. Eliot’s fragmented images or Virginia Woolf’s streams of consciousness. However, this new branch of economics derives from the writings of John Maynard Keynes, who was an active member of the Bloomsbury intellectual group, often conversing with Eliot and Woolf, as Piero Mini has documented. Woolf even wrote an essay about economics, Three Guineas (1938), that bears some similarities to Keynes’s theory, though it seems implausible to assert any direct influence. And an economic theorist who influenced Keynes—C.H. Douglas—is cited many times by two Modernist Poets, Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. The relationship between macroeconomics and Modernist literature is then not a result of direct influence but rather due to common reactions to socioeconomic developments in the early twentieth century.

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