John Dryden: An Introduction

John Dryden is the spokesman of the Restoration Age. His writings include plays, satires and critical essays. He is so dominant that his writing period is known as the Age of Dryden in the history of English literature.

John Dryden was born on the 9th of August, 1631 at Aldwinkle, Northampton shire, England. His father Erasmus Dryden was a Rector. Mary Pickering was his mother. He died on May 12th of 1700 in London.

Dryden is best known as a satirist. This dominant literary figure was appointed as England's first Poet Laureate in 1668. He got popularity for his Absalom and Achitophel (1681) Mac Flecknoe (1682) and The Medal (1682). It is he who established the heroic couplet as a standard form of English poetry. He also introduced the alexandrine and triplet.

Dryden’s literary career can be divided into three parts – 1660 to 1680, 1681 to1687 and 1688 to 1700. During the first period (1660 – 1680) he published non-dramatic poetry like Annus Mirabilies in 1667 and plays like The Indian Emperor in1665 and All for Love in1678.

The second period (1681 to1687) of his literary career is remarkable for his great satires. In this period he wrote Absalom and Achitophel in 1681, The Medal and Mac Flecknoe in 1682, Religio Laici in 1682 and The Hind and the Panther in 1687. Absalom and Achitophel and The Medal are political satires and Mac Flecknoe is a personal satire. Dryden’s fame as a poet rests on these three satires.

During the last period (1688-1700), Dryden translated the works of Virgil and published poems like Alexander’s Feast in 1697 and Fables: Ancient and Modern in 1700.


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