Memoirs of John Dryden by Walter Scott
Upon the restoration of Charles II, theatre burst back into popularity across the stages of England. For the first time since the rise of Cromwell, it was possible to make a living from writing verse, and the theatres attracted poets in their dozens. One of them was the young John Dryden (1631-1700). In this sprightly 1826 biography, reissued here in one volume, Walter Scott (1771-1832) brings Dryden's work, philosophy and historical context vividly to life. He begins with Dryden's literary origins in the Restoration theatre, exploring the flops and then the successes that earned the poet his laurels, and continues with a detailed analysis of his later work, including the unstaged opera The State of Innocence as well as Mac Flecknoe, the cornerstone of Restoration satire. A lively critic, Scott is unafraid to write off Anglo-Saxon poetry, insult grammarians and illuminate Dryden's less admirable qualities.