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Title: 'London, thou great emporium of our isle' : Dryden writing the city
Author: Burton, Samuel James
ISNI:       0000 0004 8510 465X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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John Dryden spent his professional life living and writing in London. As well as the implicit or explicit setting, subject or structuring principal for a substantial volume of his corpus, London is a condition of aesthetic production for Dryden’s poems, plays and prose. This thesis contributes to our understanding of Dryden’s centrality to the development of metropolitan literary culture in the Restoration period. Unlike existing criticism, it treats Dryden’s urban modernity as a discrete subject rather than as being incidental to his other literary preoccupations. The thesis draws on the whole range of Dryden’s writing – verse, prose, and plays – but also includes discussion of the representation of London in the work of other Restoration poets and dramatists when they provide illuminating comparative material. An introductory chapter outlines the extent of our biographical knowledge of Dryden’s attachment to London. Some space will be reserved for an abbreviated political history of Westminster and the City of London during the Civil Wars and Restoration of the monarchy, as well as outlining the urban and demographic development of the capital across the seventeenth century. Chapter two explores how metropolitan readers interacted with networks of manuscript and print circulation. Specific consideration is given to how sites of sociability affected the transmission of Dryden’s work. The third chapter looks at the social and cultural development of the ‘Town’ as a built environment and discursive space, principally through the analysis of the prologues, epilogues, and dedications prefixing his drama. The remaining chapters of the thesis look at particular texts – or clusters of texts – chronologically rather than thematically. Chapter four deals with the modes of civic government made possible by the purgative burning of the City of London in Annus Mirabilis. The subject of the fifth chapter is Mac Flecknoe: in particular, it looks at the political, social and literary allusiveness of the poem’s topography, along with its structural debt to the Lord Mayor’s Show and civic pageantry. Chapter six deals with Dryden’s partisan polemic during the Restoration crisis of government. It asks how the offices and institutions of City government, street politics and populism influenced the writing of His Majesties Declaration Defended, Absalom and Achitophel, The Medall, and The Duke of Guise. Some observations are made on the mythological triumph of the Stuart monarchy over the City of London in Albion and Albanius in a brief coda. The final chapter looks at the ways in which translation offered an alternative path for the displaced representation of London, especially after Dryden fell from political favour and lost sources of patronage after the events of the 1688-9 Revolution. Chiefly, the texts under consideration are ‘The Third Satire of Juvenal’ and Virgil’s Aeneis.
Supervisor: Hammond, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available