Daily Archives: February 15, 2012

Household Management (HUM225)

The etymology of the term “economy” comes from a compound of two Greek words, oikos (house) + nemein (management). In its root form, then, economy means household management.

Thursday we need to think about economy, in particular Lalu/Polly’s role within the various economies that are present in the novel.

Consider Part One. There is an economy at work in northern China, one characterized by deprivation and crime. Bandits, who are themselves from the lowest classes of society, prey on impoverished peasants. Living so close to the margins of subsistence, there is scarcely any possibility of advancement. In such a set of conditions, Lalu herself is one of the only salable articles to be found. She becomes a commodity.

Slideshow Notes/ Lecture Audio (HUM225)

From What is a Novel?:

“To call something ‘realist’ is to confess that it is not the real thing…. Realist art is as much an artifice as any other kind of art…. [R]ealism is calculated contingency. It is the form which seeks to merge itself so thoroughly with the world that its status as art is suppressed. It is as though its representations have become so transparent that we stare straight through them to reality itself. The ultimate representation, so it seems, would be the one which was identical with what it represented. But then, ironically, it would no longer be a representation at all” (10).

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