In modernity, “luxury” is defined chiefly in terms of the use of or indulgence in “what is choice or costly” (OED). The word is most often used to label categories of commercial goods which increase pleasure or comfort, but which are understood to be dispensable – that is, unnecessary to life. Though it is sometimes applied to describe culpable behavior in times of crisis, and while the titles of books on the subject of luxury (“luxe lit”) imply its continued moral resonance through metaphoric association with disease – Robert Frank’s Luxury Fever and Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss’s Affluenza are notable examples – the contemporary west understands luxury as a largely morally neutral concept.1 Current intellectual histories of the idea identify this neutrality as an essential feature of “modern” luxury in the western tradition, telling a story of luxury’s gradual demoralization or rehabilitation through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, culminating in the essentially political-economic idea we are familiar with today.2 The narrative of luxury’s conceptual history is then strikingly progressive, a story of the idea’s essential upward transformation from classical vice or medieval sin to modern social benefit, and finally to its apotheosis as a marker of distinction in postmodern, capitalist society. The most significant moment of transformation in this historical narrative is generally agreed to occur in the eighteenth century, where luxury is, as Christopher Berry has argued, “de-moralised” amidst political and economic debates; transformed as Bernard Mandeville famously put it, from the “private vice” of classical republicanism to the “public benefit” of the modern liberal state.3