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date: 19 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Nonsense Club was a confederacy of writers who gathered around the polemical satirist Charles Churchill and his friend Robert Lloyd during the 1760s. Churchill was celebrated as an opposition polemicist, but other members of the Club—including Lloyd, George Colman, Bonnell Thornton, and William Cowper—adopt a less direct, often self-conscious satiric mode, marked by a nonchalant awareness of their work’s ultimate lack of effect. This results in an odd mix of outspoken critique, bracing satiric barbs, almost affectionate parody, and incidental, and ad hoc considerations of the purpose of writing itself. The present account offers a survey of the Club’s poetic satire: its attitude towards contemporary poetry, most notable in satires and burlesques; the small but clear originality in the work of Lloyd; and the satire of Churchill, the most immediately consequential poet to emerge from the group.

Keywords: irony, political satire, social satire, corporate satire, associational life, Wilkes, patriot opposition, quarrelling

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