New Books Network

John Dryden is often regarded as one of the most conservative writers in later seventeenth-century England, a time-serving “trimmer” who abandoned his early commitments...

John Dryden is often regarded as one of the most conservative writers in later seventeenth-century England, a time-serving “trimmer” who abandoned his early commitments to the English Republic to become the poet laureate and historiographer royal of Charles II’s new regime. But, as this important new book demonstrates, Dryden never entirely left behind the ideas – and worries – about inspiration that shaped his early political and creative experiences. John West, who is assistant professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Warwick, has written a brilliant new book, Dryden and Enthusiasm: Literature, Religion and Politics in Restoration England (Oxford University Press, 2018), which opens up the sustained ambiguities of his subject’s interest in inspiration. With an agenda that promises to re-shape the literary history of the later seventeenth century, Dryden and Enthusiasm is a defining study of a complex and contradictory literary figure.


Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016).