An Essay Of Dramatic Poesy Full Text

Conversely, the English stage is more vital, more exciting.Subplots and tragicomedy lend variety and contrast, dramatic dialogue is better suited to passion, and even violent action is justified by deference to popular John Dryden, 1667–68 When John Dryden (1631–1700) published the Essay of Dramatic Poesy late in 1667 or early in 1668, he was already actively engaged in writing for the London stage.

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The Essay is then given over to a series of set speeches in which the companions put forward what they consider to be the best examples of dramatic representation.

Crites launches the debate with his advocacy of the Ancients: the radically classical viewpoint.

Out of such classical spareness, claims Lisideius, emerges a new verisimilitude.

It is left to Neander to reply, and to summarize, one suspects, on Dryden’s behalf.

Progress in science has been matched by progress in the arts.

An Essay Of Dramatic Poesy Full Text

The Moderns have improved upon the older dramatists’ hackneyed exploitation of myth; furthermore, they are more precise observers of the “Unities,” which, as he accurately observes, are mostly the product of continental criticism.

He is at pains to avoid the dogmatism which bedeviled much previous 17th-century criticism.

If Dryden has an agenda, it is perhaps no more specific than, as T. Eliot suggested in The Use of Poetry and the Use of Critidsm (1933), “the necessity of affirming the native element in literature.” As a working dramatist, Dryden has his preferences, but resists that submission to the Rules most often identified with French theorists.

The French are strict observers of the “Unities”; they have rejected that peculiar English hybrid, the tragicomedy; they have modernized and simplified their plots to give them a familiar credibility; and they have engaged in a more searching exploration of human passion.

Narration has, to an extent, replaced action, so that the performances are no longer embarrassed by inept death scenes and acts of violence.


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