When our great monarch into exile went,Wit and religion suffered banishment... At length the Muses stand restored againTo that great charge which Nature did ordain. In these lines Dryden represents the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 as the restoration, too, of literary culture. If wit had been banished along with the exiled Charles, his return marked a flowering of a rich variety of genres after the turbulent years of the civil war and republic. This anthology brings together a stimulating and entertaining collection of works from this confident and creative period - a literature which is by turns refined, poignant, and brash. Alongside major workssuch as Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel and Mac Flecknoe, printed in their entirety, is a substantial group of lyrics by Rochester, while Milton's Paradise Lost provides a running commentary on the Restoration scene. Scurrilous satires and pamphlets, diaries, theatrical prologues, translations andstriking work by women poets and autobiographers illustrate the period in politics, religion, philosophy and in attitudes to town and country, love and friendship. Anonymous works sit side by side with the great names - Marvell, Wycherley, Margaret Cavendish, Aphra Behn, John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys - while several poems are printed from manuscript sources for the first time, allowing us to hear new voices from a period famous for producing a thoroughly uninhibited literature.
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