Dryden's Georgics and Aeneis
Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature and Culture
Until recently, Dryden's translations of Virgil's Georgics and Aeneis (1697) had been regarded as being among the great English poems. Tanya Caldwell's Time to Begin Anew takes this evaluation seriously. Her study develops several interlocking arguments to demonstrate the poetic and historical complexity as well as the modernity of Dryden's Virgil.
Caldwell addresses the qualities and challenges of Dryden's version, discussing his engagement with the Latin original and with other seventeenth-century English and French translations of and commentaries on Virgil. She demonstrates Dryden's intimate yet ambitious relation to Milton and Spenser, his English predecessors in the heroic translation. She also contextualizes the Virgil translations as contemporary documents within the world of Stuart and Williamite politics. In the process, Caldwell demonstrates the tension in Dryden's texts-between his desire to embody heroic traditions in ways that were more accessible to him in his earlier career as poet laureate-and his realization that the possibility of once again writing-the-nation had passed forever. A crucial document in a watershed period of English literature, this study argues Dryden's Aeneis is ultimately unheroic discourse, displaying stylistic features which, in time, came to be identified with the novel.
Lucidly written and thoroughly researched, Time to Begin Anew significantly extends our understanding of Dryden's Virgil, while at the same time providing a sophisticated account of the cultural and political currents of the 1690's.
"This is the first critical study to take a serious and sustained look at the two centerpieces of Dryden's Virgil: the Georgics and Aeneis (1697). . . . No one has produced a more comprehensive and balanced assessment of Dryden's Virgil than Ms. Caldwell." --Taylor Corse (Scriblerian)
About the author:
Tanya Caldwell was educated in New Zealand and Canada, receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto.