Rewriting marx

6 July 2013

Reading Franco Moretti’s Atlas of the European Novel I find this, taken from Marx & Engels’ Communist Manifesto—

In place of old wants, satisfied by the production of their country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness becomes more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures there arises a world literature.

—and a little bell goes off & I rumage around my notebook until I find this speech coming out of the mouth of one of the characters in David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet:

“What prophet of commerce in, let us say, the Year 1700 could have foreseen a time when commoners consume tea by the bucket and sugar by the sack? What subject of William & Mary could have predicted the ‘need’ of today’s middling multitudes for cotton sheets, coffee, and chocolate? Human requisites are prone to fashion; and, as clamoring new needs replace old ones, the face of the world changes…”