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John Dryden’s celebrated conversion to Roman Catholicism is revealed in this provocative study as the culmination of a lifelong search that began with his youth in an actively Puritan family. Atkin’s familiarity with the religious thought of the times allows him to range widely among Dryden’s contemporaries and predecessors and to bring a fresh perspective to those key poems in Dryden’s religious development: Religio Laici and The Hind and the Panther. Through a sensitive reappraisal of all Dryden’s texts—including those less widely known—Atkins shows that Dryden had a lifelong antipathy for all “priests” of whatever sect, whether pagan or Christian; by concentrating on the theme of Dryden’s opposition to the clergy and his efforts toward articulating a faith for the layman, Atkins provides an important new way of tracing and evaluating the changes in Dryden’s religious position and, with this perspective, offers a new interpretation of Dryden’s conversion.
G. Douglas Atkins is professor and coordinator of Graduate Studies in English at the University of Kansas.
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
John Dryden, English religion
Literature in English, British Isles
Atkins, G. Douglas, "The Faith of John Dryden: Change and Continuity" (1980). Literature in English, British Isles. 25.