JOHN DRYDEN (1631 – 1700)

Dryden was born near Oundle in Northamptonshire, and may have begun his education at Oundle Grammar School. He later entered Westminister School and went on to Cambridge. In 1657 or 1658 hemoved to London, where he remained for the rest of his life as a man of letters. His life was a long one. It was, in addition, an exceedingly fruitful one. For 40 years he continued to produce an abund- –ance of literary works of every kind — poems, plays, and prose works. The quality of it was almost unfailingly good, and at the end of his life his poetry was as fresh and vivacious as it had been in the
prime of his manhood. Of Dryden it can be said without qualification that he is representative of his age. Dryden appeared as the chief literary champion of the monarchy in the famous satirical allegory, Absalom and Achitohel (1691). He produced another political poem, The Medal. In 1682, he wrote Mac Flecknoe. A new poetical  development was manifest in Religio Laici (1682) and The Hind and the Panther (1687) by Dryden. His first play was a comedy, The Wild Gallant (1663),
which had but a very modest success. Dryden’s The Rival Ladies (1663) is a hybrid between the comic and heroic species of play; The Indian Emperor (1665), Tyrannic Love (1669), The Conquest of Granada ( in 2 parts, 1669 & 1670) and Aurengzebe (1675) show the heroic kind at its best and worst. His next play, ” All for Love, or The world Well Lost ( 1678), is in blank verse, and is considered to be his dramatic masterpiece. After The Revolution he wrote Don Sebastian (1690), Cleomenes (1692), and Love Triumphant (1694). The Essay of Dramatick Poesie (1669) is his lonest single prose work and a major piece of English literary criticism. In Restoration Comedy
alone Dryden showed a certain incapacity; his mind seemed to be too rugged and unresilient to catch the sharper moods of the current wit. Fortunately this weakness of his was atoned for by the activities of a brilliant group of dramatists who made Restoration comedy a thing apart in English Literature. 




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