John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays

John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays

John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays

John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays

Synopsis

This volume is designed to celebrate and re-assess the work of John Dryden (1631-1700) in the tercentenary year of his death. It assembles specially-commissioned essays by an international team of scholars who address Dryden's political writing, drama, and translations, his literarycollaborations, contemporary reputation, and posthumous reception. Much of Dryden's work was written in response to contemporary events and issues, and several of the essays in this volume discuss the personal and public circumstances in which his works were composed and received, exploring hisresponses to popular politics, and his relations with Congreve, Milton, Purcell, and Shadwell. But Dryden's intellectual and imaginative world was also shaped by the work of his literary predecessors, and so the collection charts his creative engagement with classical poetry, especially Homer andVirgil. Other essays attend to his poetic self-representation, his philosophical vision, and the problem of editing Dryden's poetry for a modern readership. The collection as a whole presents him as a writer not only for an age, but for all time.

Excerpt

This volume is designed to celebrate and to reassess the work of John Dryden (1631–1700) in the tercentenary year of his death. It assembles specially commissioned essays by scholars from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, essays which differ widely in their approach, assumptions, emphasis, and style. While no attempt has been made to address every aspect of Dryden's voluminous and wide-ranging output, special attention is paid to his political writing, his literary collaborations, his drama, and, in particular, to his translations, still an undervalued part of his œuvre. Much of Dryden's writing was occasional in origin, having been written in response to contemporary events and issues, to meet the demands of performance, or to assist friends. Accordingly, several of the essays in this volume offer detailed consideration of the personal and public circumstances in which these works were composed and received. But, as Dryden's own contemporaries and early admirers realized, the intellectual and imaginative world which the poet inhabited was larger than that of Restoration England; for as well as being astutely engaged with the actualities of the present, Dryden's mind was continually engaged in dialogue with his literary predecessors—classical, medieval, and Renaissance. Moreover, his work was to be read and admired in circumstances very different from those in which it initially appeared. So as well as reading Dryden's work in its contemporary contexts, the present collection also considers the poet's communings with the past and his reception after his death, thus attending to the ways in which he might be thought a writer not only for an age, but for all time.

P.F.H., D.W.H.

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