‘Complete’ men, trade and history
DOI link for ‘Complete’ men, trade and history
‘Complete’ men, trade and history book
Defoe spares no one's blushes when it comes to outlining the ethical negotiations in trade; yet he is no simple economic pragmatist. This chapter examines these issues through the lens of masculinity, reveals that Defoe repeatedly engaged with his period's anxieties concerning the relationship between trade and effeminacy and national virtue. That manliness is founded upon virtue would be an axiom hardly worth mentioning in the early eighteenth century. That engaging in trade might potentially compromise this manly virtue was an axiom voiced more loudly. Defoe's fictional trading characters, his writings in the Review and his magnum opus for tradesmen, The Complete English Tradesman, reveal his acute awareness of the potential dangers to men's manliness when engaging in trade. Defoe was indeed imbricate within the language of civic humanism; the dominant critical attention to Defoe's Lady Credit has obscured his more insistent concern with a different aspect of the relationship between trade and men.