John Dryden, Volume 10

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 1987 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 967 pages
Dryden's poetry is straightforward, bold, and energetic. He was in the public eye for some forty years, holding positions at court for a long period of time. He was indisputably perceived as the leading writer of his day. He excelled in all the types of writing practiced at the time. He wrote more, and in more genres than anyone. He accumulated to himself (it is a odd distinction) a huge mass of attacks, ranging from the reasoned to the scabrous. Dryden explained his attitudes and intentions in a large number of prologues, epilogues, prefaces, defences, and vindications-thereby quite casually producing the first body of what we now call 'criticism' in English. And yet his life and character remain something of a mystery.

From inside the book


To John Hoddesdon on his Divine Epigrams I
Astraea Redux
Absalom and Achitophel

17 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1987)

Born August 9, 1631 into a wealthy Puritan family, John Dryden received an excellent education at Westminster School and Cambridge University. After a brief period in government, he turned his attention almost entirely to writing. Dryden was one of the first English writers to make his living strictly by writing, but this meant he had to cater to popular taste. His long career was astonishingly varied, and he turned his exceptional talents to almost all literary forms. Dryden dominated the entire Restoration period as a poet, playwright, and all-round man of letters. He was the third poet laureate of England. In his old age Dryden was virtually a literary "dictator" in England, with an immense influence on eighteenth-century poetry. His verse form and his brilliant satires became models for other poets, but they could rarely equal his standard. Dryden was also a master of "occasional" poetry - verse written for a specific person or special occasion. Like most poets of his time, Dryden saw poetry as a way of expressing ideas rather than emotions, which makes his poetry seem cool and impersonal to some modern readers. Dryden also wrote numerous plays that helped him make him one of the leading figures in the Restoration theatre. Today, however he is admired more for his influence on other writers than for his own works. He died on April 30, 1700 in London.

Bibliographic information