The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism discusses ways of creating value in turn-of-the-century American capitalism. Focusing on such topics as the alienation of property, the invention of masochism, and the battle over free silver, it examines the participation of cultural forms in these phenomena. It imagines a literary history that must at the same time be social, economic, and legal; and it imagines a literature that, to be understood at all, must be understood both as a producer and a product of market capitalism.
Walter Benn Michaels teaches English at Johns Hopkins University.
"Michaels has written a book that will be essential reading for all those interested in American fiction and American culture. . . . This is a daring, brash work of the best kind—it will be much discussed."—Philip Fisher, Brandeis University
"Like Michel Foucault, Michaels locates the 'political' in the relations between individuals, in consciousness, and in language. His work represents a far more subtle, internalized, and unschematic conception of the convergence of literature and power than we have had in American studies. He is one of the most gifted practitioners of cultural criticism today."—Leo Marx, Massachusetts Institute of Technology