John Dryden's Fables

Description

John Dryden’s Fables Ancient and Modern are considered one of his best works, a model of linguistic clarity and elegance. Here, Dryden is reworking a well-known tale – the Greek legend of Pygmalion, as told by the Roman poet Ovid in Metamorphoses, and which G B Shaw was to rework in the early 20th century.

A major figure in Restoration drama, Dryden wrote several essays explaining and exploring ideas about literature, particularly where these influenced his writing. His work on literary theory was less to do with the application of principles and more concerned with close reading and critiquing the work of other writers, such as Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare.

Dryden’s successful and prolific career as a dramatist and satirist during the reign of King Charles II saw him made poet laureate in 1668. He followed the Establishment’s change of religion to Catholicism on the accession of King James II, and lost his place at court following the accession of William and Mary. His later works include translations from French, Latin and Greek, and literary criticism. Dryden felt strongly that knowledge of Latin grammatical construction was beneficial to clear writing in English. His style of written composition became a model for writing in English during the 18th century.

Full title:
Fables ancient and modern; translated into verse, from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems. By Mr. Dryden.
Published:
1700, London
Publisher:  
Jocob Tonson
Format:
Book
Creator:
John Dryden
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Shelfmark:
641.m.8.

Full catalogue details

Related articles

John Dryden’s satiric poetry

Article by:
Ashley Marshall
Themes:
Satire and humour, Politics and religion

Ashley Marshall suggests that there is more to Dryden's satiric poetry than the expression of high-minded moral values. Trace how Dryden's personal vendettas motivated some of the cruder and more vicious attacks in Mac Flecknoe, and how his satires reflected his immediate political and religious circumstances as much as timeless ideals.

Neoclassicism

Article by:
Andrew Macdonald-Brown
Themes:
Satire and humour, Language and ideas

Writers and craftsmen including Alexander Pope, John Dryden, Jonathan Swift and Josiah Wedgwood found inspiration in the classical period. Andrew Macdonald-Brown explores how their works adopted the style, genres, aesthetic values and subjects of Greek and Roman writers.

Related collection items

Related people