The Translator 1680–1700
Much of Dryden’s work was a kind of translation. His poetry often reappropriates the images through which religious and political life was currently being represented, translating individuals and causes into unexpected shapes. His literary criticism brings together writers across different times and cultures, considering one in terms of another, working out the relative characteristics of particular authors, languages and societies by a process of continual comparison. At many points in his writing Dryden appeals to classical Latin and Greek precedents, inviting us to read the present through the language of the past, and vice versa. That reciprocal movement through which the classics are both the standard of judgment and the object of judgment is crucial: it enables the modern writer by giving him a vocabulary of forms, tropes and topoi, authorising his writing by placing him in a revered tradition; at the same time it avoids disabling him by making his work merely a supplement to a structure which is already completed.
KeywordsModern Writer English Culture Roman State True Nobility Attractive Voice
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