Last week, while picking up my reserved copy of The Last King of Scotland (which was awesome, although I kept exclaiming “Mr. Tumnus!” when James McAvoy was doing some chick against a wall), I saw this book:

City of Laughter: Sex And Satire In Eighteenth-Century London by Vic Gatrell.

So, of course, I borrowed that, too. It is really, really fun, detailing the thriving love of mockery Londoners had for their own lives, and the lives of their betters. It goes from 1770-1830, so it’s got examples of many, many lampoons showing the Prince/Prince Regent, life in St. Giles paralleled with life in St. James, and acerbic comments on just how much importance people attached to themselves. Gatrell’s writing style is conversational and witty, with loads of scholarly research. There are tons of examples of satirical prints, some of which would be shocking now, especially when applied to our leaders.

I’ve barely made it past the introduction, but I’ve looked at all the prints, and they are worth the weight of the book alone (since I only borrowed it, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s worth the cost, because that would be hypocritical of me, wouldn’t it, since I plan on returning it when its borrow time is up).

What is most fun and helpful about it is giving the flavor of life back then, like a particularly adept film, or a well-researched, well-written Regency. Do you like political and social satire? Who is your favorite? (Mine is Jon Stewart and Lewis Black. Yeah, I get two. I’m writing this). Have you seen this book yet, and what do you think about it?


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