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Dryden In Revolutionary England
by David Bywaters
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In 1681, when he wrote Absalom and Achitophel, John Dryden was poet laureate and historiographer royal at the court of his patron Charles II, and the acknowledged champion of a successful political cause. Only a few years later, Dryden's conversion to Roman Catholicism, followed by James II's deposition for favoring Catholics, had cost the poet both his honors and his public. In no way, however, did Dryden accept the status of a political has-been. David Bywaters argues convincingly that this post-revolutionary phase of Dryden's career reveals a polemic as consistent as that of earlier periods.
Dryden not only lived on in the country that had metaphorically cast him out but also remained a public literary figure, responding in his work to contemporary political changes. Between 1687 and 1700 he developed a subtle and powerful rhetoric in order to reconstruct his political and literary authority. Discussing both major and less-studied works, Dryden in Revolutionary England tells us much about the relation between politics and literature during a crucial, formative moment.
From the Inside Flap
"In my opinion, the best overall account of Dryden's later career that we possess . . . a new starting point for criticism of Dryden's later works. . . . The writing alone establishes the author's credibility as a plain-spoken man who has much to say and nothing to hide."--John Wallace, University of Chicago
"Bywaters does nothing less than make late Dryden readable, readable for perhaps the very first time since the middle of the eighteenth century. . . . His will be the book that teaches teachers."--Carol Kay, New York University
From the Back Cover
"In my opinion, the best overall account of Dryden's later career that we possess . . . a new starting point for criticism of Dryden's later works. . . . The writing alone establishes the author's credibility as a plain- spoken man who has much to say and nothing to hide." (John Wallace, University of Chicago)
About the Author
David Bywaters is Assistant Professor of English at Northern Illinois University.
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