18th Century Literature

English Literature

John Dryden, English poet and critics who was is well-known for his political and religious poetry, explicates on the nature of good writing in his essay, “An essay of dramatic poesy.” In this discourse, Dryden looks into the qualities that best defines good writing in literature as a literary work created through three important elements: the work must have a purpose, has a well-conveyed message comprehensible to the reader, and is expressed with wit and intelligence in the simplest and easiest language to understand.

For Dryden, works of literature must be created for a purpose, an honest purpose with strong effectiveness, not a literary works written for the writers benefit only. This kind of writer, which Dryden identifies as the first sort of poetry — that is, good poetry — is synonymous with the writer who is “…so much a well-willer to the satire that he spares no man … And … ought to be punished for his action …

” The strong influence of the good writers work is readily compared with the uninspiring work of the bad writer, who is characterized as one who ” … affects plainless, to cover his want of imagination … The highest flight of his fancy is some miserable antithesis … ” It is also important that the message of the poem becomes clear, yet thought-provoking for the reader, and this can be achieved by using what Dryden terms as “easy language.” These qualities are reflected in his discussion of the comprehensibility and thought-provoking nature of good literary works written by good writers: “A thing well said will be wit in all languages; and though it may lose something in the translation, yet to him who reads it in the original, tis still the same: he has an idea of excellency … though it cannot be rendered in our language, yet leaves an impression on our souls … ” In.