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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on three ‘practical satires’: the impersonation of the mountebank Alexander Bendo by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (1676); the prediction of the death of the astrologer John Partridge by Jonathan Swift, writing under the soubriquet Isaac Bickerstaff (1708); and Alexander Pope’s administration of an emetic draught to the bookseller Edmund Curll (1716). These satires are ‘practical’ in that they involve real or imagined events, performances, or encounters between real people. Being species of practical joke that require a denouement or punch line, one might expect such satires to be relatively short-lived. However, this chapter argues that the key element in all three cases is an interest in continuation, drawing out victims’ punishments and keeping them suspended before an enthusiastically participatory readership, imagined and otherwise.

Keywords: John Wilmot, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Alexander Bendo, John Partridge, Isaac Bickerstaff, Edmund Curll, practical satire, bites, mortification

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