Richard Brome's A Jovial Crew
This chapter seeks to show how playing against expectations of genre can foster new types of systemic economic thought. Attending to genre, the organising principle abstracted from the heterogeneous elements that constitute a play, requires the same conceptual movement between the individual and the systemic that characterises mercantile thought. The convergence of generic and economic thinking is evident in Richard Brome's A Jovial Crew, a play that unexpectedly splices together tragicomedy and Jonsonian ‘humours comedy’. At the time of the play's composition, the labouring poor were integral to the English economy; however, they were conceptualised as existing outside of the economic system, and mercantile writers often treated poverty merely as an effect of diminished trade. When the gentry of A Jovial Crew assume the roles of beggars, they explicitly co-opt the conventions of tragicomic romance. By grafting tragicomedy's concern with the dynamic of global investment on to the local, individualised world of Jonsonian humours comedy, Brome's play sketches a system in which the apparently non-productive poor turn out to be integral to a generative system of monetary circulation analogous to credit relations among the gentry.
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