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John Dryden

Mac Flecknoe

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1682

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Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome” by Andrew Marvell (1681)

While Andrew Marvell’s “Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome” was only published one year before “Mac Flecknoe,” it was potentially written as early as 1646. Marvell met Flecknoe at Rome, as the poem’s title suggests, between 1645 and 1647. Like Dryden’s poem, Marvell’s satire of Flecknoe was likely first spread in private circles before publication in 1681, three years after Flecknoe’s and Marvell’s deaths.

Dryden might have read Marvell’s satire of Flecknoe before writing his own in 1678 or 1679. Regardless of the poem’s exact influence on Dryden’s satire, Marvell’s attack on Flecknoe is indicative of the kind of verse satire that Dryden (and later Pope) later developed to perfection.

Absalom and Achitophel” by John Dryden (1681)

“Absalom and Achitophel,” a satirical retelling of the biblical story of Absalom and King David, is among Dryden’s most well-known works. Through biblical allegory, Dryden touches on the Meal-Tub Plot, the Popish Plot, and the Exclusion Crisis. All of these major events in English history happened between 1678 and 1681, during the poem’s composition. While “Mac Flecknoe” is largely unconnected to the larger political events that Dryden frequently wrote about, “Absalom and Achitophel” intimately engages contemporary political turmoil.