John Dryden: A Short Note

John Dryden (1631-1700): A Short Note

John Dryden is a well-known English poet, playwright, and literary critic of the Restoration era. He is considered one of the most significant figures in English literature of the late 17th century. He so dominated the literary scene of his time that it came to be known as the Age of Dryden. John Dryden was appointed Poet Laureate in 1668 by Charles II. Two years later he was appointed royal historiographer. He made significant contributions to the development of English poetry and drama.
Dryden was born in 1631 in Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, England. He died in 1700 in London. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He initially pursued a career in law. But he did not continue it due to his interest in literature. Later he became a professional writer.
He first gained recognition for his poetry in 1659 with the publication of his poem ‘Heroic Stanzas’. It celebrated the life of Oliver Cromwell. These stanzas were mature, considered and sonorous. He got recognition for his first play named ‘The Wild Gallant.’ It was a farcical comedy with some strokes of humour and a good deal of licentious dialogue. In 1663, it was premiered on the stage by the King's Company at their Vere Street Theatre, formerly Gibbon's Tennis Court.
Dryden produced many important works in his lifetime. He got popularity in the field of plays, poems, translations, and critical essays. His ‘All for Love’ is a tragic play. It is based on the story of Antony and Cleopatra. Dryden’s ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ is a very popular political satire. It lampooned the contemporary political figures of the day. His ‘The Hind and the Panther’ is an allegorical poem that defended the Catholic Church against Protestant attacks.
Dryden has written several critical essays. These essays show a significant impact on the development of literary criticism in England. His critical composition ‘Of Dramatic Poesie’ is considered a landmark work in the history of English literary criticism. Dryden is known for his mastery of several literary forms. He used heroic couplet effectively in his poetry and plays. He was also an accomplished translator. He translated the works of Virgil, Juvenal, and other classical authors. His translation works are widely read and admired.
Dryden's writing is characterized by its wit, intelligence, and versatility. He was able to write in a variety of styles, from the serious and philosophical to the light and humorous. His writing is often marked by a deep understanding of human nature and the complexities of the world around him. He was also a keen observer of politics and society. Dryden often reflected his views on the issues of his day.
No doubt, Dryden's influence on English literature is significant. His style of writing had a profound impact on the development of English poetry and drama. His works were widely read and imitated in the 18th century. His use of the heroic couplet became a defining feature of 18th-century poetry. His critical essays helped to establish the principles of literary criticism. In short, John Dryden is a remarkable figure in the history of English literature.


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