Literary Criticism of John Dryden

John Dryden (1631–1700) occupies a seminal place in English critical history. Samuel Johnson called him “the father of English criticism,” and affirmed of his Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668) that “modern English prose begins here.” Dryden’s critical work was extensive, treating of various genres such as epic, tragedy, comedy and dramatic theory, satire, the relative virtues… Read More Literary Criticism of John Dryden

Literary Criticism of Sir Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney (1554–1586) is often cited as an archetype of the well-rounded “Renaissance man”: his talents were multifold, encompassing not only poetry and cultivated learning but also the virtues of statesmanship and military service. He was born into an aristocratic family, was eventually knighted, and held government appointments which included the governorship of Flushing in… Read More Literary Criticism of Sir Philip Sidney

Symbolism, Aestheticism and Charles Baudelaire

Known as the founder of French symbolism (though not himself part of the movement), and often associated with the artistic decadence and aestheticism of the later nineteenth century, Baudelaire was born in Paris where he lived a bohemian life, adopting the artistic posture of a dandy, devoted to beauty and disdainfully aloof from the vulgar… Read More Symbolism, Aestheticism and Charles Baudelaire

Postmodern British Poetry

If the era of ‘postmodernity’ is increasingly seen as ‘a socio-economic mode that has intensified and surpassed modernity itself’ then poetry produced under this new ‘socio-economic mode’ might rightly be dismissed as another form of ‘postmodern’ candyfloss neatly packaged for our quick or therapeutic consumption.1 On the other hand perhaps poets, often relatively uninvested in… Read More Postmodern British Poetry

Psychoanalytic Reading of Kafka’s The Man Who Disappeared

Kafka’s first novel, The Man who Disappeared (Der Verschollene), still better known in the English-speaking world at least under Max Brod’s title, Amerika, is set against the realist backdrop of the most modern and technologically advanced society in the world, the USA. The America of this novel remains strangely hyper-real, however, in spite of Kafka’s… Read More Psychoanalytic Reading of Kafka’s The Man Who Disappeared

Gender Matters: The Women in Donne’s Poems

For Donne as for us, gender matters, deeply, passionately, disturbingly. Donne is constantly writing about women and gender roles, both explicitly and indirectly through analogy and metaphor. Yet unlike his immediate predecessors and contemporaries, Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare, Donne rarely lingers over the woman’s physical appearance. For this and other more theoretical or ideological reasons,… Read More Gender Matters: The Women in Donne’s Poems