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The Scriblerus Club

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 09 June 2005

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Scriblerus Club. The 18th century Club included some of the most extraordinary and vivid satirists ever to have written in the English language. We are given giants and midgets, implausible unions with Siamese twins, diving competitions into the open sewer of Fleet-ditch, and Olympic-style pissing competitions: "Who best can send on high/The salient spout, far streaming to the sky". But these exotic images were part of an attempt by Pope, Swift and their cadres to show a world in terrible decline: "Religion, blushing, veils her sacred fires,And unawares Morality expires.Nor public flame, nor private dares to shine;Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!Lo! Thy dread empire, Chaos! Is restored:Light dies before thy uncreating word".So wrote Alexander Pope in his great mock epic verse, The Dunciad. Who were the Scriblerans? And what in eighteenth century society had driven them to such disdain and despair?With John Mullan, Senior Lecturer in English, University College London; Judith Hawley, Senior Lecturer in English, Royal Holloway, University of London; Marcus Walsh, Kenneth Allott Professor of English Literature, University of Liverpool.

  • Further Reading

    Further Reading

    Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus (1741)

    John Gay

    Fables (1727, 1738)

    The Beggar's Opera (1728)

    Jonathan Swift

    The Battle of the Books (1704)

    A Tale of a Tub (1704)

    Drapier Letters (1724)

    A Modest Proposal (1729)

    Gulliver's Travels (1726)

    Alexander Pope

    Pastorals (1709)

    Windsor Forest (1713)

    Essay on Criticism (1711)

    The Rape of the Lock (1714)

    Imitations of Horace (1733-38)

    An Essay on Man (1734)

    Moral Essays (1731-35)

    The Dunciad (1728-43),

    Pope also translated the The Iliad (1720) and The Odyssey (1725-26) and edited Shakespeare (1725)

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