The mediation is the message: Charles Johnstone's chrysal (1760)

Marta Kvande, Emily Gilliland Grover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Because Charles Johnstone's Chrysal, or The Adventures of a Guinea (1760) is a novel of circulation about the travels of a coin, it is self-evidently about how value is constructed. Mediation thus becomes not merely a background process in the novel but the fundamental way in which value is generated for the economy, the nation, and printed texts. The mediation inherent in commerce, in the idea of the nation, and in the medium of print caused significant anxieties for eighteenth-century Britons. If pervasive mediation transformed what it touched, how could value be stable? Chrysal answers this question by showing that mediation always produces the proper value. Economic transactions eventually lead to the right outcome, regardless of participants' motives; the British nation is produced by mediation between ruler and people; and good books are created in the process of transforming a text from manuscript to print. Chrysal argues that the novel's own mediated status should guarantee its worth and that mediation itself, rather than fixity, should become the accepted means to value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-557
Number of pages23
JournalEighteenth-Century Fiction
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

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