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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?

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Community Reviews

4 Stars

Read this with Critical Readings podcast and it was another great one. The play features Antony and Cleopatra. A different take on their story and I highly enjoyed reading it even though it’s hard to root for a love that leave wives and empires on the wayside.

The fight scene between Octavia and Cleopatra is definitely my favorite part.

Reading for book group. We are also looking at Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra as well as Plutarch's Life of Antony.

It's obvious how Plutarch is the grandfather, Shakespeare the child and Dryden the grandchild.

I found the differences between the two plays interesting. Shakespeare's is sprawling wit

I fail to understand why someone who clearly doesn't respect women would write a play about one of history's most impressive women. Cleopatra, in Dryden's rendering, is a simpering, pathetic excuse for a person. Antony isn't much better, and any mention of their mutual affection violates the old wri

I honestly enjoyed Shakespeare's version of Antony and Cleopatra more than Dryden's.

He actually failed what he was aiming to do; passing a moral lesson. The result was absolutely the opposite.

All for love , all for you , my honor , my dignity , my throne even my soul .. all for you but stay with me or die with me
Love it so much ..

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