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Witness to ReconstructionConstance Fenimore Woolson and the Postbellum South, 1873-1894$
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Kathleen Diffley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030253

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030253.001.0001

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The Balances of Deceit; or, What Does Silver Mean to Me?

The Balances of Deceit; or, What Does Silver Mean to Me?

Woolson’s “Castle Nowhere” and the Money Question during Reconstruction

(p.16) (p.17) The Balances of Deceit; or, What Does Silver Mean to Me?
Witness to Reconstruction

Michael Germana

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter presents a reading of Woolson’s novella “Castle Nowhere” (1875). It examines the role of monetary metaphors in Woolson’s fiction, how she maps these metaphors onto social fissures, and how her story is a participant in, not merely a chronicler of, the monetary debates of the period. It suggests that even if Woolson did not consciously write the monetary politics of the era into the morality play that is “Castle Nowhere,” her contemporaries would have had no difficulty making this connection on their own. The reason is because it was a common practice among public figures of the era to articulate their preferences for one monetary standard over another by joining this discourse to the language and imagery of the Bible. The Book of Amos facilitates such grafting by taking as one of its principal subjects the standards of money and measure and the collusion of the powerful that leads to their abuse.

Keywords:   Constance Fenimore Woolson, novella, monetary standard, monetary metaphors, Book of Amos

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