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The rhetoric of credit

merchants in early modern writing


"Recent influential work on Jacobean city comedies, by Jean-Christophe Agnew and Douglas Bruster in particular, is confined to the well-worn topics of urban alienation and the avaricious merchant, drawing on 1550s sermons and tracts against usury. In this model, where social credit is deemed to circulate without limit, the city comedy's specific reference to contemporary ideas of trade, cash, and credit is lost. The plays are reduced to moral satires against greed, humoural comedies of the hollow self, or self-referencing literary artifacts which create and interact with a coterie audience. Aging rants against avarice might account for earlier interludes which mock usurers and misers, but not for the slick, formal pleasures of the city comedy, bringing together gull, courtesan, prodigal gallant, virgin daughter, and jealous citizen father or husband."--Jacket.