ENG 259 Rhyming, Railing, and Roguery Before 1800

Nora Crow, T Th 10:30 AM-11:50 AM


What do these three pursuits, both the respectable and the disreputable, have in common? Jonathan Swift, the greatest prose satirist in English literature, the “madman” who proposed eating babies as the solution to Irish poverty, was joined in the “Scriblerus Club” by Alexander Pope, the greatest satiric poet in the English tradition. Pope celebrated the heroic cutting of—a lock of hair. At the club meetings, John Gay picked up hints for his “Beggar’s Opera.” That opera, set largely in Newgate Prison, featured hard-drinking highwaymen and lusty prostitutes—all mirroring the vices of the upper classes. We’ll study not only those who satirized rogues, but rogues themselves too. Daniel Defoe, spy, journalist, and author of the first English novel, Robinson Crusoe, was put in the pillory for one of his escapades.