John Gay

David Nokes
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ISBN 9780571320080 Format Paperback
Published 21/08/2014 Length 588 pages

About Book

First published in 1995, David Nokes' major biography of John Gay (1685-1732) was the first full-length life of Gay for over fifty years, and drew on hitherto unpublished letters. Presenting Gay as a complex character, torn between the hopes of court preferment and the assertion of literary independence, Nokes offers both a lively and accessible read for the non-specialist and a comprehensive scholarly study.

Best-known for The Beggar's Opera, Gay is here revealed as a contradictory figure. 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. Often cast as a neglected genius, dependent on others, he in fact left a considerable fortune after his death. Depicted by his friends as both a childlike innocent and a rakish ladies' man, he produced the most successful and subversive theatrical satire of his generation, and volumes of bestselling Fables.

  • About David Nokes

    David Nokes was for many years a professor of English Literature at King's College London, where he taught eighteenth-century literature and pioneered the Creative Writing course. His books include Jonathan Swift, A Hypocrite Reversed, which won the James Tait Black Memorial prize in 1985, and biographies of John Gay (1995), Jane Austen (1997) and Samuel Johnson (2009). His adaptation of Clarissa for BBC TV was nominated for a Bafta award in 1991. David Nokes died in 2009.

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