For decades scholars have relied on the concept of circulation to explain the operation of texts and to animate the significance of literary studies. Its overuse has elided differences in the virtual relationships created by reading and has blurred empirical details about the production and consumption of texts. Circulation has been turned into a “widespread cultural ideal” and remains one of the least examined stipulations of literary study. For these reasons, reconsidering its role in literary study is essential. The eighteenth century was a vital period for the creation of a modern definition of circulation, so this essay returns to one especially pertinent case from that period, Helenus Scott’s it-narrative The Adventures of a Rupee (1782), which describes the movements of a rupee coin in the world economy. Attending to the linguistic form and publication history of Scott’s novel offers a model of circulation that emphasizes coagulation and stasis rather than liquidity, mobility, and flows. This model explains how texts repeat while altering preexisting forms of circulation, which has consequences for understanding how reading publics arise and reproduce themselves.

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