Friday, February 02, 2007

I like it

that the Financial Times quite often reviews scholarly books about the eighteenth century. This one about Edmund Curll sounds well worth checking out (the review is by Robin Black):

In this new and detailed study of Curll’s career, he is admitted to be a muckraker, pornographer, plagiarist, literary pirate and quarrelmonger. His feud with Alexander Pope occupied both men over three decades, originating in the publisher’s pirated editions of Pope’s early poems. In revenge the poet dropped an emetic into Curll’s drink at Fleet Street’s Swan Tavern, then wrote a pamphlet on the prank.

Undeterred, Curll published more unauthorised Popeiana. When Pope played what he thought was his ace by bringing out The Dunciad, Curll imperturbably cashed in with a series of profitable spin-offs: A Compleat Key to The Dunciad, The Popiad and The Curliad. Curll was a roly-poly clown: however often he was pushed over he came upright, still smiling.

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