John Dryden: Mac Flecknoe

(1963 words)
  • Jerome Donnelly (University of Central Florida)

Mac Flecknoe and Absalom and Achitophel are John Dryden’s two greatest satires; whereas the latter combines comedy with serious political discussion, Mac Flecknoe is comic throughout. Yet the best comedy can be serious business, as is the case with this poem. Sometimes incorrectly trivialized as nothing more than a narrow lampoon against the playwright Thomas Shadwell, Mac Flecknoe is much more than this as Dryden actually makes of his rival dramatist a literary portent and excoriates both him and his literary productions as exhibits of a bad taste that threatens cultural standards.

In a later reference to the poem, Dryden called it a “Varronian” satire (after the Roman satirist Marcus T…

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Donnelly, Jerome. "Mac Flecknoe". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 November 2004
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]