ABSTRACT

Part II of this book examines various types of fiction that take on some of the cultural conflicts owing to the rise of public credit. I examine various narrative strategies to get a sense of how the novel differentiates itself from other forms of fiction in the later eighteenth century, arguing that the virtualization of trust, new to contemporaries, puts additional pressure on the novel’s generic concerns which can be seen as an extension of the representational questions discussed in Part I. The remainder of Representing Public Credit, therefore, takes a certain liberty: the extension of the credible commitment thesis into discursive territories it has not yet ventured – deeper into the part of public credit that is dependent on public opinion. A reason for this is that in the early eighteenth century, the public itself, as Mark Knights points out, can be seen as a collective fiction with new importance because “for the first time a National Debt was funded by the public and based on public credit.” 1 What follows is an attempt to continue reading through eighteenth-century texts by looking for evidence that credible commitment might have still been a problem, still an ongoing process of negotiation between creditors and the State.