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All for Love by John Dryden
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INTRODUCTORY NOTE

The age of Elizabeth, memorable for so many reasons in the
history of England, was especially brilliant in literature,
and, within literature, in the drama. With some falling off
in spontaneity, the impulse to great dramatic production lasted
till the Long Parliament closed the theaters in 1642; and when
they were reopened at the Restoration, in 1660, the stage only
too faithfully reflected the debased moral tone of the court
society of Charles II.

John Dryden (1631-1700), the great representative figure in
the literature of the latter part of the seventeenth century,
exemplifies in his work most of the main tendencies of the time.
He came into notice with a poem on the death of Cromwell in 1658,
and two years later was composing couplets expressing his loyalty
to the returned king. He married Lady Elizabeth Howard, the
daughter of a royalist house, and for practically all the rest of
his life remained an adherent of the Tory Party. In 1663 he
began writing for the stage, and during the next thirty years
he attempted nearly all the current forms of drama. His "Annus
Mirabilis" (1666), celebrating the English naval victories over
the Dutch, brought him in 1670 the Poet Laureateship. He had,
meantime, begun the writing of those admirable critical essays,
represented in the present series by his Preface to the "Fables"
and his Dedication to the translation of Virgil. In these he
shows himself not only a critic of sound and penetrating
judgment, but the first master of modern English prose style.