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24 July 2014 | by D.J. Taylor

The Verse That Stings - BBC Radio 4

Normally one is suspicious of exercises in historical fast-forwarding – that is, investigations of some bygone event which take as their starting point the premise that the social or cultural arrangements of 200 or 300 years ago were pretty much like our own. On the other hand, it took only a moment or two of Ian Hislop’s enquiry into the artistic circles inhabited by Alexander Pope and his friends (20 July) to establish a sense of continuity between the world of Augustan satire and a modern-day spoof such as Armando Ianucci’s The Thick of It.Hislop began his excursion in Twickenham on the site of Pope’s villa, of which nothing now remains except the grottoes which the author of The Dunciad used as a retreat, or rather as a venue for composing what his pursuer call

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