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dc.contributor.authorKinsley, Jamesen
dc.date.accessioned2019-02-15T14:32:30Z
dc.date.available2019-02-15T14:32:30Z
dc.date.issued1951
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1842/34898
dc.description.abstracten
dc.description.abstractWordsworth wrote to Scott on Dryden's poetic character:en
dc.description.abstractI admire his talents and genius highly, -hut his is not a poetical genius. The only qualities I can find in Dryden that ere essentially poetical, are a certain ardour and impetuosity of mind, and an excellent ear. It may seem strange that I do not add to this, great command of languages That he certainly has, and of such language too, as it is most desirable that a poet should possess, or rather that he should not be without. But it is not language that is, in the highest sense of the word, poetical, being neither of the imagination nor of the passions... (i)en
dc.description.abstractIn general, modern critics have recognised Dryden's supreme abilities in verse satire and argument, and his 'ardour and impetuosity of mind?; but, while few have agreed with Arnold's extreme view that 'Dryden and Pope are not classics of our poetry, they are classics of our prose', few have disagreed with the implications of Wordsworth's letter and granted Dryden much of the poetic imag¬ ination, either in idea, in imagery, or in diction, whioh was a first essential with the Romantics. He is a powerful writer, exciting, and vital; but in the end there is too muohmere statement, and too much plainness in him, for him to claim a place with the best poets.en
dc.description.abstractMr. T.S. Eliot has done much to counteract such criticism. 'The depreciation or neglect of Dryden', he says, 'is due not to the fact that his work is not poetry, but to a prejudice that the material, the feelings, out of which he builds, is not poetic*. This defence is based on a revaluation of the argumentative, satiric, and rhetorical elements in Dryden. Mr. Eliot affirms that the work of Dryden is poetic just where the Romantics thought it prosaic; and his appreciation of Dryden as a completely non-romantic poet is brought out in two comments on the language of his poetry:en
dc.description.abstract(He) bears a curiously antithetical resemblance to Swinburne. Swinburne was also a master of words, but Swinburne's words are all suggestion and no denotation; if they suggest nothing, it is because they suggest too much. Dryden's words, on the other hand, are precise, they state immensely, but their suggestiveness is almost nothing.en
dc.description.abstractFrom the perfection of such an elegy (the lines on Oldham) we cannot detracts the lack of suggestiveness is compensated by the satisfying completeness of the statement.en
dc.description.abstractThere is at least one objection to this kind of critical defences it does not take into account the intentions of the poet. It is true that Dryden delighted in 'stating immensely'; but he would have been distressed to find himself defended as a poet who excelled in statement rather "than in suggestion. It is here that so much well-meant criticism of Dryden falls shorts he does not fit into the poetic category where denotation is all, and connotation is nothing; and critics have been too ready to read back into Dryden that desire for undiluted clarity, precision, and finality of statement which is a characteristic of some types of eighteenth century verse. He lived through an age when the critical re¬ action from the fantastic and obscure, from poetic ellipsis and excessive con¬ notation, was producing a simpler, clearer style; and he played his part in that reaction. On the other hand, his natural boldness and perpetual liveliness in poetry did not let him rest content with a direct, merely denotative manner of writing; and the magnificent obviousness of his diction is often illusory. Modern readers, looking back on Dryden over the nineteenth century Romantics, are conditioned to expect brilliant and suggestive novelty in the diction and imagery of poetry; and Dryden does not seem to satisfy that expectation. Neither Augustan nor Romantic avoided the conventional or artificial in diction; but the circumscribed, regulated artifies of the Augustan poets gave way, in the nineteenth century, to an uncontrolled freedom in poetio language which gets in the way of our sympathy with the Augustan style. Mr. Tillotson, taking the extreme example of Keats, succinctly expresses the difference between the poetic suggestion of the best Augustans and that of the Romantics; the Augustans, he says,en
dc.description.abstractknew that a reader soon scrambles on to the level of a poem, and that when he has reached it, that level becomes his norm... In Endymion, everything is so exotic that, to,provide a surprise, Keats has almost to burst a blood-vessels In Gray's Elegy, the even tenor of the style gives to words like 'tinklings' the equivalent of an 'angelic strength'.en
dc.description.abstractHere Dryden's conception of the language of poetry as a highly selective, ornamental dress, or final colouring, for the poet's thought as opposed to the modern notion of poetic language as the full and inevitable expression of thought— is of the first importance. Poetic language was, for him, essentially 'made' language; and his own enthusiastic love of experiment and novelty, in diction no less than in general style, encouraged him to 'make' his poetic language much as he chose. It is the firm, durable groundwork of current vocabulary and idiom in his poetry which gives it a deceptively plain and obvious appearance. But in the occasional novelty, giving a new twist of meaning to a common word, dropping into colloquialism or rising into the heroic, introducing a word laden with venerable poetic associations or echoing the classical poets, Dryden's diction takes on a large measure of suggestion. He builds fundamentally in strong, graceful, beautifully sculptured stone; but he varies and adorns the smooth surface of his work with colour -— sometimes merely a suggested shadow, and sometimes the bold brilliance of mediaeval bosses and capitals rich in paint. That the number of potentially suggestive words in his vocabulary is comparatively small, is not important; a rather narrow range of novel words, old words used in new ways, and -words carrying an aura with them from older poets, can vivify and change the -whole texture of a poet's style, if he works carefully and subtly. Colour need not be thick, massy, and continuously patterned to be effective: the brilliance of a cathedral interior is due, not merely to the bright colouring of windows and hangings, but to the contrasts between that colouring and the great masses of monochrome stonework. The poet -who touches a basically plain style with subtly disposed light, shade, and colour, may give a less cloying and more delicate impression of richness and suggestion than does a poet who scrapes his whole palette into every line. Languageen
dc.description.abstractis not marble, neither is it putty. Classical tendencies in the use of words would lean to the former, romantic to the latter. Those who prefer a hard material, a fixed and rigorous system of language., may be likened to the sculptor and his marble; those who desire the widest liberty, like Keats, may in extreme cases reduce the language to the consistency of putty. (I)en
dc.description.abstractDryden, as a neo-classical poet, inclines to work in marble rather than in putty; but he fully realises the coldness and unresilience of marble, and works as freely as he can, within the limits of the classical tradition, for warmth, novelty, and colour. He is not constrained by any rigid doctrine of propriety in diction. He manipulates colloquialisms, archaisms, provincial and technical terms, and latinisms, with characteristic boldness, to give added power, light, vividness, or delicacy to his style. Again, his perpetual energy and his highly individual exaltation of tone create an atmosphere in his poetry which removes it, even at its most didactic or philosophical, far from mere 'statement'j the force and passion -which thrust up into all his work in every poetic kind, gives* it a pulsing, thrilling freshness and vitality. The tempestuous ardour and glow of his style transform ideas, personalities, arguments, and situations into passionate and imaginative poetry.en
dc.description.abstractThe centrifugal force in Dryden's poetical career was his constant concern for the standards, techniques, and development of his art. From Dr. Johnson to Mr. Van Doren, critics have busied themselves in pointing out that there was certain poetic genres in which Dryden was at home, and others which made demands upon his mental, imaginative, and technical resources, which he could not meet; but, as important as his comparative success or failure in any one poetic kind, is his awareness of the variety of styles in the traditional forms of poetry, his constant interest in the potentialities of those forms, and his persistent experimentation with every sort of genre, style, and tone. In philosophy, he was often sceptical and disengaged; his critical views were in many respects tentative and fluid} but in his conception of the artistic function of the professional poet, and his delight in trials of poetic strength and resourcefulness, he remained constant. Despite deliberate distortions, contradictions, special pleading, and shifts in opinion as times and circumstances alter, his critical essays are the handbook to his poetry; and they illustrate his constant regard for good art, whatever the political, theological, or personal needs of the hour might be. He wrote as a professional poet, and supplied the needs of his time in political satire, religious controversy, the celebration of public characters and occasions, narrative verse and elegant translations for cultured readers, and the drama. To a large extent, the interests of his age provided him with his range and variety of poetic tasks, and encouraged his ingenuity and versatility. Ultimately, however, he met every fresh demand as a good artist, reconsidering the traditional techniques and conventions, undogmatically working out his own attitudes and methods for each task, and executing each with boldness and conscientious originality.en
dc.description.abstractPerhaps no nation ever produced a writer that enriched his language with such variety of models. To him we owe the improvement, perhaps the completion of our metre, the refinement of our language, and much of the correctness of our sentiments. By him we were taught 'sapere et fari", to think naturally and express forcibly... What was said of Rome, adorned by Augustus, may be applied by an easy metaphor to English poetry embellished by Dryden, 'lateritiam invenit, marmoream reliquit', he found it brick, and he left it marble, (i)en
dc.publisherThe University of Edinburghen
dc.relation.ispartofAnnexe Thesis Digitisation Project 2019 Block 22en
dc.relation.isreferencedbyAlready catalogueden
dc.titleDiction and style in the poetry of John Drydenen
dc.typeThesis or Dissertationen
dc.type.qualificationlevelDoctoralen
dc.type.qualificationnamePhD Doctor of Philosophyen


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