Sir Isaac Newton and the Great Re-Coinage of 1696 in Philip Kerr’s Dark Matter
Dominika OramusUniversity of Warsaw, Poland
Dominika Oramus graduated from the University of Warsaw in 1996 and both her MA thesis (The Bloody Chamber or the Curious Room? Metaphors of Culture in the Short Stories of Angela Carter, 1996) and her PhD thesis (Ways of Pleasure: Angela Carter’s Discourse of Delight in her Fiction and Non-Fiction, 1999) were supervised by Professor Jacek Wiśniewski. Today she is a full professor of contemporary literature at the Institute of English Studies and the Artes Liberales Department, University of Warsaw. Her areas of research include science fiction and climate fiction, and she has supervised 8 PhD theses with four more underway.
The aim of this paper is to show how in recent years a comparatively little-known period of Newton's life, his work as the Warden and then Master of the Royal Mint, has entered the popular imagination. Analyzing Philip Kerr's detective novel set in the 17th century, Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton, I discuss his depiction of the Great Re-Coinage and the criminal world of cockney counterfeiters and 'clippers' whom Newton so successfully prosecuted. Additionally, the paper demonstrates how the "Britishness" of Newton and of old London becomes commodified; Kerr sells the myth of British history, Britain’s greatest minds, and British urban folklore for the global market.
Keywords:Sir Isaac Newton, alchemy, the Great Re-Coinage, Philip Kerr, the Royal Mint, Britishness
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