John Dryden, Fables


  • Intro

    Like Robert Henryson two centuries earlier, Dryden is here reworking a well-known tale, in this case the Greek legend of Pygmalion, as told by Roman poet Ovid in Metamorphoses, and which G B Shaw was to rework in the early 20th century. The Fables Ancient and Modern are considered one of Dryden’s best works, a model of linguistic clarity and elegance. A major figure in Restoration drama, Dryden wrote several essays explaining and exploring ideas about literature, particularly where these influenced his own writing. His work on literary theory was less to do with the application of principles than close reading and critiquing of the work of other writers, such as Jonson and Shakespeare.


    Dryden’s successful and prolific career as a dramatist and satirist during the reign of Charles II saw him made poet laureate in 1668; he followed the establishment’s change of religion to Catholicism on the accession of 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.


    Shelfmark: 641.m.8.

Explore more timeline content: