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English Clandestine Satire, 1660-1702$
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Harold Love

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199255610

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199255610.001.0001

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The Lampoon as Gossip

The Lampoon as Gossip

(p.191) 6 The Lampoon as Gossip
English Clandestine Satire, 1660-1702


Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that the lampoon in its lighter manifestations is written gossip; gossip was all too often a spoken lampoon. The good lampooner was probably also a good gossip; moreover, a lampoon was a prompt for further gossip by becoming a subject of conversation in its own right. The circulation of a lampoon was likely to be enlarged by the freshness and piquancy of its gossip, something for which diligent research of the kind carried out by Rochester with his paid sentinel, Lumley with his nocturnal stalking, and Howe with his briefings from his sisters was required. This is not to say that accusations so assembled had to be truthful—much, as the account given earlier of Howe’s method indicates, was likely to be invented. The lampoon was similar in its function to the present-day newspaper gossip column, and, like that, needs to be viewed as a written derivative of oral culture. Nor was this similarity restricted to the court and Town lampoons, since the state lampoon insistently set out to reduce politics to personalities and personalities to scandal.

Keywords:   gossip, Howe, Rochester, oral culture, Lumley

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