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Zola and Menger

On February 23, 1898, Émile Zola was imprisoned in France after writing J’accuse, a letter accusing the French government of anti-Semitism and wrongfully imprisoning Captain Alfred Dreyfus.

Zola is perhaps most famous for his leadership in extending realistic naturalism to the novel, in such works as Germinal (1885).

Emile Zola

Fifty-eight years earlier, Austrian economist Carl Menger was born.

Menger would go on to contribute to the development of the theory of marginal utility, which supplanted cost-of-production theories of value in economics, in his first book, translated into English as Principles of Economics. Though expert in mathematics (he served as tutor in economics and statistics to Archduke Rudolf von Habsburg, the Crown Prince of Austria not long after the publication of the Principles), his approach to marginal theory was the least mathematical of his famous “co-discovers” of the principle, William Stanley Jevons and Leon Walras. Rooted in a subjective theory of value, it was the most realistic and least mathematical of the marginalist revolutionary works. For example, Menger was more interested in price formation, not “price determination,” which focused almost exclusively on equilibrium conditions. He developed an evolutionary theory of money, and his second book expanded upon evolutionary processes, especially the invisible hand aspect of social order.

Zola died in 1902; Menger died in 1921.

By: Redactor

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