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Comedy and CrisisPieter Langendijk, the Dutch, and the Speculative Bubbles of 1720$
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Joyce Goggin and Frans De Bruyn

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622201

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622201.001.0001

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John Law, the South Sea Bubble, and Dutch Satire

John Law, the South Sea Bubble, and Dutch Satire

(p.103) John Law, the South Sea Bubble, and Dutch Satire
Comedy and Crisis

Helen J. Paul

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the financial history behind the Bubbles of 1720, with a special focus on their effects in the Netherlands, by offering a number of observations and speculations concerning two economic comedies penned by Pieter Langendijk in 1720, collected in Het groote Tafereel der dwaasheid [The Great Mirror of Folly], and now published in this volume in English translation. As well as examining what the plays can tell us about the financial knowledge of Langendijk’s audiences, this essay explores how literary critic and historian C.F.P. Meijer attempted to explain economic history to a new readership in his 1892 edition of the plays. Dutch familiarity with finance and share trading is evidenced in Langendijk’s use of sophisticated financial language, indicating that his audience understood the world he was satirising. That Langendijk could, or thought he could count on a certain familiarity with finance on the part of his Dutch viewers stands in contrast, for example, to what we may extrapolate from English plays of the same period, which merely caricature stock market activity, likening it to gambling. This chapter shows that Langendijk painted a more nuanced view of finance than his English contemporaries, and argues that, while Quincampoix and Harlequin Stock-Jobber share some common themes with English plays (such as anti-Semitism and the humbling of the nouveau riche), Langendijk, like many in his Dutch audience, was no financial neophyte.

Keywords:   South Sea, Financial transactions, Share trading, Economic bubbles, John Law

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