Dryden and the problem of freedom : the republican aftermath, 1649-1680 /
David B. Haley.
New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, 1997.
x, 285 p.
0300066074 (alk. paper)
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New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, 1997.
0300066074 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 245-275)) and index.
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Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-11:
Accurately described as a "revisionary" study, this important book reads Dryden's works as the efforts of a public poet to reveal to his audience the meaning of their historical experience, no simple task when the poet himself struggles to achieve civic freedom and historical integrity. Haley argues that Dryden sought to make providence explicit by self-consciously imitating the literal phenomena of history--Haley (Univ. of Minnesota) calls it "providential mimesis," a means of fostering "historical reflexivity" (an awareness of tradition's ongoing effects), which derived from Puritan radicalism. Indeed, Haley finds the matrix of Dryden's thought in the pre-Restoration years, England's "Machiavellian moment": Cromwell became Dryden's model of authority; if Dryden saw the Restoration as an act of providence (or human prudence), he viewed regicide in the same way (Charles and Cromwell both protected the nation against republican ambition); Dryden's providential mimesis at the end of Absalom and Achitophel proclaims restoration but prophesies revolution; even the conversion to Catholicism is a liberation of his Puritan radicalism. Haley defamiliarizes our sense of Dryden and his major poems, serious plays, satires, and critical prose. A major contribution strongly recommended for graduate and research collections. G. R. Wasserman; Russell Sage College
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Choice, November 1997
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Bowker Data Service Summary
Haley argues that Dryden was the first English poet after Shakespeare to engage in historical reflection upon his own culture, showing how the poet's religious and literary opinions evolved out of his tumultuous early career.
Unpaid Annotation
In this revisionary study of Dryden's thought, David Haley argues that Dryden was the first English poet after Shakespeare to engage in historical reflection upon his own culture. Addressing an audience for whom literature was bound up with religion and politics, Dryden exercised the moral integrity of a public poet and brought home to them the meaning of their historical experience.Haley has made an original synthesis of literary and cultural history, examining Dryden's works before Absalom and Achitophel and showing that throughout this period the Great Rebellion remained the matrix of Dryden's thought. Cromwell, who had inspired the regicides but then abolished the Commonwealth, was the one man able to control the army, and he became Dryden's model of authority. Cromwell's death, however, unleashed republican radicals who threatened to bring in tyranny by the people. At the Restoration, Dryden looked to Charles II and his brother to prove that their authority was no less providential and effective than Cromwell's had been.Dryden's religious and literary opinions evolved likewise out of his tumultuous early career. Haley finds that as late as 1682, Dryden, a Puritan who had yet to convert to Catholicism, failed to see that the radical freedom of the republicans was cousin to the freedom of thought he always championed against spiritual tyranny. Dryden's belief in private judgment drove him finally to reject the most subtle tyrant of all, the Restoration Church of England. In similar fashion, Dryden wrestled with the problem of freedom in his heroic plays, whose subjectivity reflects the morally irresponsible imagination. By 1680, the poet had grown alarmed at a moral relativismthat promised, like republicanism, to lead to anarchy, and he took refuge in satire.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Public Poetp. 1
Praise and Deliberation under the Republicp. 19
Cromwell and the Millenniump. 46
This Talking Trumpet: Dryden's Hermeneuticsp. 79
False Freedom and Restorationp. 107
The Last Agep. 140
Masterless Men: The Heroic Playsp. 173
Our Author Swears It Not: Satirep. 216
Notesp. 245
Indexp. 277
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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