The first line of the poem creates the illusion of its being an epic poem about a historical hero. The next lines talk about Mac Flecknoe , a monarch who instead of ruling an empire, rules over the realm of Nonsense. The king is old and thus must choose a successor to his throne. Dryden wonders whether the king will chose a poet who has talent and wit or if he will choose someone like him, a man with no literary talent. Flecknoe decides upon his son Shadwell, a man with no talent and who is tedious, stupid, and always at war with wit. Shadwell is also described as a very corpulent man.

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They were both quite successful and well respected. One thing led to another, however, and they soon found themselves embroiled in some serious beef. One day, the writer by the name of John Dryden decided to up the ante. Dryden completely skewers Shadwell, exposing him for what he was: a bad writer with bad taste, who would do anything for the cheap laugh.

He was pretty well-known in his day, an important, albeit minor, figure in the English Restoration literary scene. How does Dryden achieve this razor-sharp, devastating effect, you might wonder? Dryden mocks his victim, Shadwell, by depicting him as the lamest epic hero of all time: the terminally dull, hopelessly witless poet-king of the "realms of Non-sense" 6.

Throughout the poem, Dryden shows no mercy to his victim, finding new and clever ways to use wit and irony, while pretty much inventing his own genre in the process.

Today, "Mac Flecknoe" is hilarious as ever; we can still feel that year-old burn just as sharply. South Park. Stephen Colbert.

The Onion. That something is satire. Satire is a tried and true tool for making people laugh and think at the same time. So where does "Mac Flecknoe" fit into the mix? Well, in short, John Dryden basically invented the modern satire as we know it. When we think about the origins of modern satire, names like Jonathan Swift , Alexander Pope , and Voltaire come to mind. These later writers, however, draw directly from the tremendous wit, hysterical hyperbole, and epic irony of "Mac Flecknoe.

Fans of the Colbert Report will notice a similar technique. Still, "Mac Flecknoe" is no cakewalk. It is really long, really complicated, and contains more random references than an episode of Family Guy.

Much of this cultural context is difficult to decipher even if you have your PhD in late seventeenth-century English Restoration Literature. But, like any truly great satire, it stands the test of time, remaining relevant even after many of the specific references lose their relevance.

Also, thanks to "Mac Flecknoe," we have ridiculous stuff like this. Thank you, John Dryden—from the bottom of our satire-loving hearts. Mac Flecknoe Resources.


Mac Flecknoe Summary

After many years as ruler, however, it comes time for him to step down. Ultimately, he chooses his son Thomas Shadwell, a poet of unparalleled dreadfulness, as his successor. Shadwell is the worst writer in all the land, and thus, the perfect man for the job. Upon arriving in the city of August a. London , Shadwell is crowned king of the realm of nonsense.


Mac Flecknoe

The poet introduces Flecknoe, who like the Roman ruler Augustus , was called to rule when he was young. He rules the peaceful realm of Nonsense now, but is growing old and decides that Fate wants him to settle the business of the State. Flecknoe ponders which of his sons should succeed him in warring eternally with wit. It will be the one who resembles him most: Shadwell, who even while young in years is mature in dullness. As for Flecknoe, he admits he is just a dunce who paved the way for Shadwell. When he warbled with his lute for King John I of Portugal, he was merely preluding the day when Shadwell would sail down the river Thames, puffed up and proud with his royal task. There has never been his like — it is as if a new Arion is sailing.


Mac Flecknoe Summary and Analysis of Mac Flecknoe

Mac Flecknoe is both a personal and literary satire. Dryden presents Shadwell as a dull poetaster, a corpulent man and a plagiarist. He decided to avenge himself on Shadwell and Dryden fully revenged himself by the publication of Mac Flecknoe in Mac Flecknoe is the first substantial mock-heroic poem and Thomas Shadwell is the hero of this epic. The name of his kingdom is Nonsense.

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