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The Life of John Dryden: A Critical Biography
Zwicker
ISBN: 978-1-4051-0274-2
Hardcover
400 pages
October 2014, ©2009, Wiley-Blackwell
Title in editorial stage
  • Description

Main blurb (for internal use only - CHECK BEFORE USING IN PRINTED PUBLICITY):

Dryden is one of the enigmas of literary history. He is a major writer whose impact on English literature - and the history of the language, the formation of prose writing, the literary critical tradition, our reception and understanding of classical literature - could hardly have been greater. He lived in turbulent times and was apparently a turncoat or political weathercock. While it is unlikely that Zwicker will unearth new information, his book will set out to deliberately to tackle the biographical tradition, right down Winn's study (see competing books). Zwicker believes that neither Dryden's work nor the voluminous contemporary response have been deeply and challengingly enough read to reveal the life of the poet. Nor, according to Zwicker, has the life been used with enough critical distance and dispassion to reveal the nature of Dryden's art. The tendency has been to idealize Dryden, to soften and to exculpate, an approach that not only flattens the life but tames Dryden's imaginative daring. It will be the aim of his biography to use the contemporary response to Dryden and Dryden's own writing more critically and strategically than before, to attempt the recovery of this literary life by seeing it simultaneously through Dryden's texts and those of his contemporaries from the Duke of Buckingham and William Congreve to the huge anonymous and pseudo-anonymous literature which Dryden's person and work excited over nearly the whole of his literary career. Zwicker's intention is to conjure Dryden's life in ways that have neither been previously attempted or achieved. Such a life promises to be both more interesting and more unsettling than the versions we have lived with for the nearly three centuries of biographical tradition.

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