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Title: Dryden's translations from Ovid
Author: Hopkins, David
ISNI:       0000 0001 3581 4889
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1979
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Dryden's versions from Ovid span the full length of his translating career, and thus provide a unique opportunity to observe his principles and practice as a translator, the development of his translating art, and his constantly-evolving relationship with a single ancient author. Dryden had known Ovid from boyhood, and frequently echoed in his prose criticism the strictures on Ovid's verse which had been made from Roman times onwards: that Ovid was frequently 'witty out of season' and that his verse was often prolix, and 'against the order of Nature'. His earliest Ovidian translations, those included in the collaborative Ovid's Epistles (1680), do little to convince a sceptical reader of the high claims which he had made for Ovid as a skilful portrayer of female passion, since their wit often seems cold and callous (or merely tedious wordplay) and they manifest an awkward declamatory stiffness. But Dryden returned to Ovid in 1692 after a period of deep reflection both on the art of translation and on the course of his own life and literary career. The best of the late Ovidian translations, especially those in Fables (1700), reveal, more fully than any of his prose comments, that Dryden now saw Ovid as a poet who, by means of the very effects of witty distancing and strokes of 'fancy' which so many commentators have found uncongenial, was able to create a distinctive perspective on reality, in which reactions and emotions normally kept quite separate, and thought of as incompatible, could be delightfully fused. Ovid's witty mode, Dryden seems to have thought, was a means of creating a kind of philosophical detachment or serenity, whereby distressing, even brutal, events could be viewed with a unique combination of wit and pathos, tenderness and humour, distance and sympathy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
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