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Rome: Self-impoverishment and self-confidence

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Chapter Summary

The entire trip to Rome and Audun’s troubles on the way back is narrated in two sentences. Not a word is spent in Rome except the word Rome itself: “Audun went to Rome, but on the way back he took sick and wasted away.” Yet Rome lies at the dead center of the story, 73 lines in the actual manuscript before he heads to Rome, 76 after he comes back. Audun lives in a world in which some forms of self-impoverishment can work to one’s advantage, not just in the way Jesus suggests. Self-impoverishment becomes, in Audun’s hands, a form of capital. In this chapter, we see an instance of Pierre Bourdieu’s symbolic capital’s ready transferability into old-fashioned real capital, as Audun’s self-impoverishment works to raise the price of the bear independent of its pure market value, by raising the moral value of Audun.

Keywords: Audun; bear; Jesus; Rome; self-impoverishment

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