All For Love


  • Author: John Dryden
  • Publisher: A&C Black Publishers Limited
  • ISBN-13: 9780713671056
  • Pages: 160
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Year of Pub / Reprint Year: 2004


About The Book

All for Love or, The World Well Lost is John Dryden’s 1677 adaptation
of the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra into a neo-classical quintet
with supporting voices: After Cleopatra’s desertion of Antony at the
battle of Actium, not only his wife Octavia but also his general
Ventidius and his friend Dolabella strive to win him over to their
side. Antony, torn between the claims of duty, friendship, dignity and
love, despairs when he hears the rumour of Cleopatra’s death, which is
not, as in Shakespeare’s version, spread by the queen herself but by
her deceitful eunuch. This edition includes Dryden’s dedication of the
play to the Earl of Danby and his preface, in which he defends against
French neo-classicist strictures the liberties he took with his
sources; it further discusses the play’s austere power in the theatre,
which is unjustly considered to be inferior to Shakespeare’s quite
distinct version of the story.

About The Author

John Dryden (1631-1700) was an English poet, critic and dramatist, responsible for nearly 30 plays. He was noted both for his elegant comedies and his heroic verse dramas, which introduced the principles of French neoclassicism to England.

Dryden turned to drama following the reopening of the theatres at the Restoration; his first attempt, the comedy The Wild Gallant, was presented in 1663 at Drury Lane. The success of his heroic drama The Indian Emperor established him as a leading playwright. Following Aureng-Zebe (1675), perhaps his best heroic work, Dryden abandoned the use of rhyming couplets, producing the oft-revived blank-verse tragedy All for Love (a retelling of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra) in 1677.

Dryden was the first to write drama criticism in an informal modern style and the first to attempt a history of English drama in his essay Of Dramatick Poesie (1668). He eventually tired of playwriting and his final plays, such as the tragicomedy Love Triumphant (1694), were written to relieve financial problems after his fortunes fell with the abdication of James II.