Gay, John

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Book Chapter

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John Gay (1685-1732), author of more than ten plays and dozens of works of poetry including The Shepard's Week, Trivia, and Fables, is best known for his ballad-opera The Beggar's Opera (1728). His most popular productions tend to be gentle burlesques of literary fads and satires of political behavior. His work exploits the expectations and limitations of genre and sympathizes with the powerless. Gay's approach is self-consciously literary and urban. He plays with opposite registers, often with high style and a "low" subject (such as drinking, walking, milkmaids, and thieves). He frequently uses a naïve or sardonic poet-persona as a means of satire or ironic self-deprecation, yet nearly all his work has a sentimental and sincere element to it.




Book chapter published in The Encyclopedia of British Literature 1160-1789. Print book ISBN: 9781444330205. Online ISBN: 9781118607268

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