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The Face of MammonThe Matter of Money in English Renaissance Literature$
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David Landreth

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199773299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199773299.001.0001

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Wit without Money in Donne and Nashe

Wit without Money in Donne and Nashe

(p.184) Chapter Four Wit without Money in Donne and Nashe
The Face of Mammon

David Landreth

Oxford University Press

The final chapter construes the material relation between people and their coins in terms of waste—the impulse to squander, to define one's self through what's left behind when the money is gone. This antagonistic and perverse relationship to the materiality of Renaissance money is charted by two of the wittiest writers of the 1590s, John Donne and Thomas Nashe. In Donne's early Elegies, the wasted coin is the occasion for a fantasy of endless expenditure and the concurrent terror of being paid back. In Nashe's prose, the witty profusion of his speakers is enabled by their monetary wastefulness, as Nashe investigates the material and discursive possibilities of the impassable threshold between “as little as possible” and “nothing.”

Keywords:   Donne, John. Elegies, Nashe, Thomas. Pierce Penniless, waste, prodigality, minimality, angel (coin)

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