To address in economic terms what D. A. Miller calls “Austen Style” and Anne Toner, following G. H. Lewes, identifies as Jane Austen's “economy of art,” this article uses Austen's major novels and final unfinished manuscript to examine the changing relationship between literature and economics in the early decades of the nineteenth century. How, more specifically, does her fiction participate in the critical debates emerging between David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus about the purpose and disciplinary style of political economy? What do Miss Bates's verbal surplus and Diana Parker's incessant interruptions of domestic life that is “too domestic to admit of calculation” have to say about the paper currency crises that dominated most of Austen's writing career? Challenging the nineteenth-century commonplace that “Miss Martineau understands the science” and Austen “plays by ear,” the article insists that Austen's novels not only offer an explanatory but also a critical account and narrative enactment of the economic and social history of inflation, interest, and investment as well as an affective engagement with political economy's narrative strategies concerning the changing history of value.

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