John Dryden (1631-1700): His Politics, His Plays, and His Poets

John Dryden (1631-1700): His Politics, His Plays, and His Poets

John Dryden (1631-1700): His Politics, His Plays, and His Poets

John Dryden (1631-1700): His Politics, His Plays, and His Poets

Synopsis

This volume celebrates the work of John Dryden and reassesses his position in the literary tradition three hundred years after his death. Part 1, "The Court, the Town, and the Playhouse," features essays by Lawrence Manley, Harold Love, Howard Erskine-Hill, David Womersley, and Maximillian Novak that reconsider Dryden's interaction with the London of his day, and how that interaction shapes his drama. Part 2, "Dryden and the Poets," sets Dryden alongside those poets who influenced him (Virgil, Persius, Juvenal, Shakespeare), those he influenced (Pope and Swift), and contemporary poetic rivals (Milton and Marvell) in essays by Steven Zwicker, Emrys Jones, Susanna Morton Braund, Paul Hammond, Louis Martz, Annabel Patterson, Ian Higgins, Valerie Rumbold, and Barbara Everett. Together the essays form a new appreciation of the extraordinary ambition and impact on this most dynamic dramatist and poet.

Excerpt

In planning this tercentenary celebration, the organizers of this conference, Vincent Giroud and I, were acutely conscious that this was not the only one to mark the anniversary of Dryden's death three hundred years ago. Though we naturally hoped to achieve a broadly representative view of his extraordinary range, we chose also to narrow our focus to two aspects of his works: the politics of his plays, and his relations with some of the poets, ancient and modern, who helped to shape his work, or who, in his own and the next generation, absorbed his influence, or regarded him with hostility. Even in these two areas, systematic coverage, either of his drama or his poetic relationships, would have been impossible. In the case of the poets, we were especially conscious of the omission of Homer, Lucretius, Ovid, and Chaucer. But we trust that this volume's attention to what might be called Dryden's Virgil, Persius, Juvenal, Shakespeare, Milton, Marvell, Rochester, Swift, and Pope will nevertheless provide a generous sampling of the poetic tradition in which Dryden was an unignorable and distinctive presence.

The celebration was one to which Louis Martz contributed one of his last scholarly compositions. It was written specially for the occasion, and delivered with the intellectual energy and grace that all who knew him recognized as the special mark of his long and brilliant career as a teacher and scholar. He was a cherished friend, colleague, or teacher of many of the participants, and none of us escaped the enriching influence of his writings. He died before this volume could appear, and it is dedicated, with the deepest affection and respect, to his memory.

The celebration could not have taken place without the support and encouragement of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, and especially of Vincent Giroud, its Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts. He was in the fullest sense a codirector of this event, a wise counselor, generous host . . .

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