For most of history, Thomas Piketty explains, the return on the value of land has exceeded economic growth, which helps explain why Victorian characters like Mr. Darcy seem so effortlessly wealthy….So this is in almost every Victorian novel. From Jane Austen up through Anthony Trollope, you keep hearing about what kind of an income the prospective bride or groom has. And you don’t hear about a rate of return.
I hate to single out any journalist in particular, as this little bit of philistinism has been popping up everywhere lately, but it demands to be said: Mr. Darcy is not a “Victorian character,” and Jane Austen was not in any sense a writer of “Victorian novels.” Austen died in July 1817, nearly two years before Victoria was born and a decade and a half before she ascended to the throne. Moreover, the first draft of Pride and Prejudice was completed in 1797, in the middle of the reign of George III.