Dryden, Behn, and what is ‘secretly in the poet’

Matthew Reynolds

in The Poetry of Translation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199605712
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731617 | DOI:
Dryden, Behn, and what is ‘secretly in the poet’

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In his Preface to Ovid's Epistles, Dryden advocates translation‐as‐paraphrase, in which the ‘sense’ is allowed to ‘amplified’ but not ‘altered’—though he admits that, in the translations themselves, he has ‘transgressed’ these ‘rules.’ I show that, in his version of Ovid's ‘Canace to Macareus’, Dryden's transgressions as a translator echo Canace's sexual transgression with her brother even while apparently holding it up for disapproval: this creates an intensely conflicted poetry of translation. Other contributors to the same volume adopt related practices of ‘opening’, due in part to the cultural circumstances in which they were working. I discuss in particular Aphra Behn's polemical expansions of ‘Oenone to Paris’.

Keywords: Ovid; Epistles; paraphrase; opening; John Dryden; Aphra Behn; Roscommon

Chapter.  5761 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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