By Irvin Ehrenpreis
Read Online or Download Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen PDF
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Extra resources for Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen
If we now look back at the large design I have been sketching, we may see the issue of genre in a stronger light; for I think Dryden's design implies an attitude toward social institutions and moral traditions that belongs to a particular literary form. It is a commonplace of scholarship that Dryden thought of tragedy in terms of epic. He labeled The Conquest of Granada a tragedy; but in the dedication he described it as "heroic poetry" and mentioned only epics among his models. This terminology can help us if we agree on the meaning of "epic" for Dryden.
It seems significant that the servants join the false Amphitryon, Jupiter, who has been so free with his bribes. The true Amphitryon has no claim on them except his virtues, his integrity and legitimacy. Is Dryden trying to account for the failure of the English people to rally behind his own patron (and their rightful king)? In the splendidly comic scenes of the last act there are touches of pathos. When Charles II first came home from exile, Dryden celebrated his restoration in Astraea Redux by describing him as a bridegroom and England as a languishing bride.
The chief minister of the emperor persuades the latter's brother to overthrow him but only so the minister may then overthrow the brother. The Mufti, religious leader of the Moors, is a shameless hypocrite who uses religion as a screen for lust, avarice, and a thirst for power. ) The motifs of salvation and damnation recur in the play but are turned about. Love and death are explicitly identified. The hero Sebastian is devoutly Catholic but loves a Moslem princess and almost commits the sin of suicide.