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John Gay: A Profession of Friendship by…
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John Gay: A Profession of Friendship

by David Nokes

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This major biography is the first full-length life of John Gay (1685-1732) for over fifty years. David Nokes's detailed and extensive research has unearthed several new discoveries, including hitherto unpublished letters, and possible attributions. Presenting Gay as a complex character, torn between the hopes of court preferment and the assertion of literary independence, this book is at once a lively and readable biography for the non-specialist, as well as a comprehensive and scholarly study. Perhaps best-known for The Beggar's Opera, John Gay is here revealed to be a contradictory figure whose life defies strict generic categories. Often cast as a neglected genius, dependent upon others, Gay in fact left a considerable fortune after his death. Depicted both as childlike innocent and rakish ladies' man by his friends, he produced the most successful and subversive theatrical satire of his generation, and volumes of Fables which remained best-sellers for over a century. David Nokes argues that Gay's self-effacing and self-mocking literary persona was largely responsible for perpetuating an image of himself as a genial literary non-entity. Hence Gay's authorship has been frequently questioned and often attributed, at least in part, to his friends in the Scriblerus Club - Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot. John Gay, A Profession of Friendship finally views Gay as a man whose struggles for literary and social recognition led him, paradoxically, to project a deliberately enigmatic personality.… (more)

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