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Money and Magic: A Critique of the Modern Economy in the Light of Goethe's Faust cover
  • ISBN: 9780226051857
  • ISBN10: 0226051854

Money and Magic: a Critique of the Modern Economy in the Light of Goethe's Faust

by Binswanger, Christopher A Binswanger, Hans P.

  • List Price: $23.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publish date: 01/01/1994
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Although Faust is widely celebrated as a literary classic few readers have appreciated its penetrating insights into the enduring social problems of the modern economy. Faust is permeated with financial allusions; Goethe, who was finance minister at the Weimar court, was as intrigued by the alchemy of creating boundless wealth through paper money as he was troubled by the social and cultural consequences of the Industrial Revolution. Hans Christoph Binswanger looks at Faust through the lens of economics and enlarges our understanding of this epic by explaining Goethe's preoccupation with financial matters. In the second part of Faust, Mephistopheles promises to lend Faust to the "highest moment" through riches and power. Together they create a new society and economy based on paper money, the right of ownership, and the mastering of energy through mechanization. Goethe based his tales on the life of John Law, a Scot who rescued the Prince of Orleans's finances by founding a bank and issuing limitless paper money. Law's ploy was successful at first, but eventually the paper money lost its value and the economy collapsed. In Money and Magic, Binswanger elucidates Goethe's remarkable prediction that, following the Industrial Revolution, economic society would be built on the transformation of natural resources into a continually expanding money supply. Yet Goethe also cautioned of the results should modern society exploit these resources and fail in its responsibility to the natural environment. Goethe meant Faust to be a warning to modern economic society. Money and Magic illuminates Goethe's masterpiece for Germanic and Goethe scholars, social and cultural historians, and economists.
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