Political Economy: Commerce, Civic Tradition and the Luxury Debate in <i>Isabella</i> and <i>Lamia</i>

Porscha Fermanis

in John Keats and the Ideas of the Enlightenment

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637805
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652181 | DOI:
Political Economy: Commerce, Civic Tradition and the Luxury Debate in Isabella and Lamia

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This chapter reports the increasing resistance to the Enlightenment ‘cult of commerce’ from within the early nineteenth-century dissenting press, focusing on Leigh Hunt's Examiner. Isabella and Lamia make important contributions to debates on commercialisation and luxury. Isabella examines the effects of avarice and commercialism on the individual; Lamia, the broader social consequences of luxury and rampant consumerism. Hunt sustained critique of its more extreme or vicious manifestations in the form of luxury, money-getting and commercialism in the Examiner had a profound effect on John Keats' representations of the modern mercantile state in Isabella and Lamia. These poems show the way in which societies can fall into decline through an over-emphasis on the values associated with commercialism and luxury. Neither Isabella nor Lamia endorses without irony the experience of their lovers.

Keywords: Isabella; Lamia; Leigh Hunt; Examiner; John Keats; Enlightenment; commercialisation; luxury; commercialism

Chapter.  11089 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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