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Posts Tagged ‘House of Mirth’

There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.
—Robert Graves

Not to quibble with one of the most prolific poets and authors of the 20th century, but money, and more precisely the lack of it, has for centuries played an immense role in literature. Just as the deficit continues to plague our nation, such obligations have been a driving force in many of our favorite books, from the many “dettes” owed in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to the gritty poverty of Angela’s Ashes.

There’s the infamous stolen loaf of bread that Jean Valjean paid for with his misfortunes over and over again in Les Misérables. The money Lily Bart accepts from Gus Trenor drags down her social status in House of Mirth. Of course, debt and penury are recurring themes in Charles Dickens’s many works. And perhaps more topical, there’s the giant credit card balance rung up by clueless Becky Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Now, I don’t want to get too caught up with literature and debt.  After all, as Henry David Thoreau said:

Books are the treasured wealth of the world
and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.

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