“Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own”. – Jonathan Swift
With the current political climate, Satire is thought by many to be in a Golden Age. This, coupled with the fact that it is a comedic genre that is often not explored by boys at Radley, prompted Mr Mosedale and nine Vth Form boys to visit the British Library on Tuesday evening to attend a talk on ‘Satire In An Age Of Madness’.
Hosted by the Royal Society of Literature, the talk focused on Jonathan Swift, an influential 18th century poet, essayist and satirist, whose 350th birthday is being celebrated this year. It explored his relevance in today’s society and examined disparities in his political position that were often reflected in his literary work. The talk continued with amusing discussions about Brexit, political correctness, the morality of satire, as well as satirical impressions of Donald Trump, a highlight of the evening for many boys.
The talk involved an interesting panel, all of whom offered their own unique perspective on Jonathan Swift and satire in the 20th century. The panel consisted of Jonathon Coe, an influential novelist and author of a modern children’s adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels; Judith Hawley, a professor of 18th century literature at Royal Holloway; Martin Rowson, a satirical cartoonist whose work is often featured in publications such as The Guardian and Daily Mirror; Sathnam Sanghera, a journalist and author; and Rory Bremner, a comedian, impressionist and performer of the much-loved Trump impressions.
It was also a delight for many of us to visit the British Library. Stumbling across literary items such as Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis or two of the four surviving versions of Magna Carta was a delightful addition to an already informative evening.
Such delights, supplemented by a pizza supper and a feeling of intellectual fulfilment, resulted in a group of very happy Radleians indeed. Minds buzzing with scholarly contentment, it was the train journey home that allowed for a moment or two of thoughtful reflection on the enlightening proceedings of the evening.
Report by Jack Dhillon, A Social Fifth