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All for Love

John Dryden

Book Overview: 

All for Love is widely considered to be John Dryden's finest work, dramatic or otherwise. A tragedy written in blank verse, it retells the story of Roman general Marc Antony's love affair with the alluring Egyptian queen Cleopatra and their eventual double-suicide. Compared to the more famous rendition of the tale by William Shakespeare, however, which is grand and hectic in terms of setting, Dryden chooses instead to focus in on the lovers' last days in Alexandria as the threat of their defeat looms and their legacies are contested. The result is a swelling, elegant, emotional drama that perceptively considers such themes as loyalty and love, fidelity in marriage, the lasting endurance of friendship, and even the tenuous construct of masculinity. In short, it's truly a gem of the Restoration repertoire.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I uttered was most true.

  ALEXAS. A foolish dream,
  Bred from the fumes of indigested feasts,
  And holy luxury.

  SERAPION. I know my duty:
  This goes no further.

  ALEXAS. 'Tis not fit it should;
  Nor would the times now bear it, were it true.
  All southern, from yon hills, the Roman camp
  Hangs o'er us black and threatening like a storm
  Just breaking on our heads.

  SERAPION. Our faint Egyptians pray for Antony;
  But in their servile hearts they own Octavius.

  MYRIS. Why then does Antony dream out his hours,
  And tempts not fortune for a noble day,
  Which might redeem what Actium lost?

ALE. . . Read More