John Dryden's Fables


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.
1700, London
Jocob Tonson
John Dryden
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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