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Politics and Language in Dryden's Poetry

Politics and Language in Dryden's Poetry: The Art of Disguise

Steven N. Zwicker
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 264
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvxzx
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    Politics and Language in Dryden's Poetry
    Book Description:

    This study of Dryden's poetic career addresses the nature of covert argument in an age of violently contested political and religious issues.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5757-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Political Science
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Figures (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Abbreviations (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgments (pp. xi-2)
  6. 1. Language as Disguise POLITICS AND POETRY IN THE LATER SEVENTEENTH CENTURY (pp. 3-34)

    Political thought of the later seventeenth century is often studied as the history of and ideologies implied by such words as “property,” “liberty,” and “prerogative.” Nor is it surprising that students of political thought should have isolated these terms for special attention; they appear prominently and repeatedly in the writing and recorded speech of nearly every political actor of the age. In fact, they appear so frequently and in such contradictory contexts that we must wonder not only what meaning such words had but if indeed they had any meaning at all, or rather if meaning was their most important...

  7. 2. Tropes and Strategics (pp. 35-69)

    To write on affairs of state in the later seventeenth century was invariably, perhaps inescapably, to participate in rhetorical masquerade; to write at all was to face a language in which the central terms of public life, politics and religion, had become instruments of disguise. Such conditions applied to politicians in the most obvious of political circumstance as well as to more refined and more exotic forms of speech, to tract and pamphlet but also to lyric and epic. Disguise was an essential condition of this culture, and its effects were visible at every turn, in comedy whose essence is...

  8. 3. Ambiguities and Uncertainties (pp. 70-84)

    The study of irony and disguise in Dryden’s prefaces and critical essays reveals persistent and significant topoi and strategies, and suggests as well a steady growth in power and sophistication as Dryden cultivated the readers’ response to his work. The habit of such preparation was one that Dryden exercised more persistently and more brilliantly than any other poet of his time. He provided directions for reading all but one of the major poems and translations, and these exercises were integral to the strategy of the poems, setting their terms and rhetorical conditions, complementing and instructing in their subtlety of design...

  9. 4. Politics and Religion THE “MIDDLE WAY” (pp. 85-122)

    Absalom and AchitophelandReligio Laiciare Dryden’s great poems of the “middle way.” Moderation is the warp of their metaphors, the engine of their dialectic; at all costs, they argue their convictions and prescriptions, they soften their satiric edge and unsparing condemnations, in the name of beloved moderation. This language was taught by the bitter experience of civil war and it was adopted in Exclusion by all men, regardless of conviction.¹ So powerful and so artful are the claims for moderation inAbsalom and Achitophelthat students of the poem have come to see language as belief, to see...

  10. 5. Fables, Allegories, and Enigmas (pp. 123-176)

    Dryden turned once more to poetry and “laicy” in defense of religious faith; but the circumstances in which he wrote and publishedThe Hind and the Pantherwere very different from those in which he conceived his Anglican confession—and not least because Dryden now had the formidable task of reversing those opinions on religion and politics to which he had given such definitive edge inReligio Laici.¹ In the earlier poem Dryden had stressed laity in order to define an Anglican toleration distinct from repressive clericalism; in light of that distinction, he used the poem to articulate the king’s...

  11. 6. Politics and Translation VIRGIL’S ÆNEIS (pp. 177-205)

    Dryden’sFablesreflects the political and ideological preoccupations of his last years, but political themes inFablesare mediated by translation, by adaptation, by the exigencies of lyric and narrative, and perhaps most importantly by the poet’s own reconciliation to the disturbing fact of a revolution that he knew, late in the 1690s, would not be reversed in his life-time. The most sustained political meditation of the last decade came a few years beforeFables, and it occurred not as lyric or narrative but in the epic mode, in the translation of Virgil’sAeneid. Dryden began translating Virgil in 1693,¹...

  12. [Illustrations] (pp. None)
  13. Epilogue (pp. 206-208)

    In theEpistle to Bathurst, Pope celebrates one John Kyrle, model of charity and virtue, exemplar of honor and forthrightness; and he begins the portrait of Kyrle by invoking the “honest Muse.” Honest, because this praise might be clear and artless, but also because Pope wants to show that Kyrle embodies the social and the moral meanings of honesty. The portrait couples an older social sense of the word, even its slightly archaic connotations, with a more contemporary and increasingly powerful moral definition of honesty. Both definitions were available to Pope, but one had begun to fade by 1733, and...

  14. Notes (pp. 209-240)
  15. Index (pp. 241-248)
  16. Back Matter (pp. 249-249)