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The Bon Gaultier Ballads

The popular title of a collection of light poems, parodies and burlesques of popular verse written by William Edmonstoune Aytoun and Sir Theodore Martin and published in 1845 under the title The Book of Ballads edited by Bon Gaultier. Bon Gaultier was the pseudonym under which Martin wrote for Fraser's Magazine and Taits Edinburgh Magazine, and many of the ballads appeared in those publications between 1841 and 1844. It is taken from Rabelais' Prologue to Gargantua: 'A moy n'est que honneur et gloire d'estre dict et repute Bon Gaultier et bon compaignon; en ce nom, suis bien venu en toutes bonnes compaignies de Pantagruelistes.' Among the parodies are those of Tennyson's 'May Queen' and 'Locksley Hall', Hunt's 'Rimini', Macpherson's ossian poems, Scottish ballads and popular Victorian verse. The ballads are both an attack on exaggerated Romantic sensibility and a satire on the obscurity and egotism of the poets whom Aytoun connected with the so-called Spasmodic School. In their day the ballads enjoyed great popularity and they mark the beginning of the Victorian interest in literary parody. The first edition contained 39 ballads and the final, authorized edition (1857) 56. Although the title remained The Book of Ballads, it was known popularly as "The Bon Gaultier Ballads'.

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