This article proposes the concept of noncapitalist wealth as a line of inquiry into the relations among capitalism, animism, and literary production. I begin by discussing the methodological implications of Harry Garuba’s influential essay on “animist materialism” and suggest that Garuba’s operating theory of capital means that his method ultimately leads to a mode of reading that understands animism as bearing primarily upon representation rather than on literary production. The result is a mode of reading that lacks sensitivity to the implications of the influence of specific animisms on individual texts. Eschewing an encompassing theory of animism’s relation to literary production, I propose the concept of noncapitalist wealth, derived in part from Karl Marx and anthropologists such as Jane I. Guyer, as a potential avenue of inquiry within the debate around literary animisms. I offer a reading of Ben Okri’s The Famished Road trilogy (1990–1998) to demonstrate the ways in which an operating concept of wealth, combined with a sensitivity to contemporary forms of capitalism, can help to reveal the political dimension of some literary texts.
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