Tristram Shandy in the Age of Insurance

Terry, Richard (2019) Tristram Shandy in the Age of Insurance. Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 42 (3). pp. 347-363. ISSN 1754-0194

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In 1762 the Equitable Life Assurance Society was founded, the first to calculate its premiums on actuarial principles. Its origin coincides with a growing market for insurance products as well as increased appreciation of domestic risk: the third quarter of the century, for example, sees a sharp spike in fire insurance policies issued by the major providers. The Equitable was prepared to write life assurance policies for children as young as eight: its ‘Deed of Settlement’ illustrates a policy that might be taken out on ‘the life of any healthy boy at the age of Eight years, whose occupation shall not be hazardous’. Introduced to the world in 1759, Tristram Shandy’s early years are ones especially beset by hazard and contingency. This essay argues that Sterne’s novel is constituted by an insurance ‘mentality’, in its appreciation of the inherent risks of life and how these might be calculated and mitigated.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: insurance sector, Tristram Shandy, Gambling, chance, life assurance, contingency, Laurence Sterne, card games, Edmond Hoyle
Subjects: Q300 English studies
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2019 13:41
Last Modified: 29 May 2021 03:30

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