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Consumer ChroniclesCultures of Consumption in Modern French Literature$
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David H. Walker

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781846314872

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846317156

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Speculations on Value

Speculations on Value

(p.203) 12 Speculations on Value
Consumer Chronicles
Liverpool University Press

Prior to the outbreak of World War I, France was the world's second richest country. The French used gold and silver coins for their daily shopping, and the franc-or was acknowledged by the international community as a guarantee of monetary security. When the war ended, however, France's industrial base weakened considerably as post-war reconstruction took its toll. Cash became an increasingly uncertain commodity and ceased to be a reliable indicator of wealth. The Paris Stock Exchange shows that ethical values are pure speculation. In his novel Cette grande lueur à l'Est, Jules Romains explores the negative consequences of rising prices on consumers and businesses. Louis Aragon's fiction Les Voyageurs de l'Impériale meditates on John Law, money and the stock market as well as the evolution of economics and consumption in the tumultous years of the ‘Belle Epoque’ and the depression years of the 1930s. The novel spans the period from 1889 through to the start of World War I — a period that laid the foundations of the consumer society.

Keywords:   France, stock market, consumer society, economics, consumption, Louis Aragon, Les Voyageurs de l'Impériale, speculation, John Law, values

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