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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates sexuality’s appearance in eighteenth-century satire, both as a frequent topic of satiric attacks and as an analogue for the questionable drives that animate satire itself. Satires of the period target female licentiousness, male debauchery, and same-sex desire as objects of excoriation, and they regularly expose sexual energies as the real source of pretended aesthetic or civic aspiration. Yet they also often suggest that libidinal drives, including sadistic aggression, scopophilia, and fetishism, may underlie supposedly high-minded satiric acts. The chapter draws its primary examples from poems by Alexander Pope, concentrating particularly on his attacks on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Lord Hervey, and on their replies, with the second half of the chapter devoted to a reading of Sober Advice from Horace. The chapter also traces a historic shift from the Restoration to the Augustan period in patterns of association between sexual and satiric acts.

Keywords: Alexander Pope, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Lord Hervey, Rochester, Christopher Codrington, satire, history of sexuality, satire and sexuality, Horatian imitation, literary allusion

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