ALL FOR LOVE, or The World Well Lost. Dryden had been an innovator when in 1664 he asked that <
Such an undertaking was to be judged purely by the results. Judging by these standards it must be confessed that 'All For Love' was a success. In reducing Shakespeare's 40 scenes to five acts Dryden lost the epic sweep of the original. He lost as well the impression of the tragic pair at their moment of greatness and passion. The retrospective method gives a tone of plaintiveness to the whole composition. For the last two acts the author seems hard put to it to eke out the action and does so by developing a motive of jealousy below the level of the rest of the piece. But for his own day
at any rate Dryden makes up for these faults by the expertness of his handling. Ten years are compressed in one final day, which happens to be the birthday of the protagonist. The characters are fit mouthpieces for dignified speech adorned with some high ornament. 'All for Love' was produced at the Theatre Royal in 1678 and in the same year was published with a preface by the author. According to Genest it was played some 15 times during the 18th century, the part of UL,,i)atra. b(,ng taken by Nance Oldfield, Peg Wottnigton, :a id Mrs. Sid dons. It is last mentioned at Bath in 1818. Sir Leslie Stephen is at one with other critics in considering it Dryden's finest play. Editions: Scott-Saintsbury (8 vols., 1882) ; Saintsbury (ed. 'Mermaid Series') ; Noyes, G. R. (1910); Strunk (ed. 'Belles Lettres' Series, 1911). Consult Dryden's 'Essay on Heroic Plays) (Scott-Saintsbury, Vol. IV) ; Sherwood, M., 'Dryden's Dramatic Theory and Practice' ('Yale Studies in English,' No. 4); Saints bury, G., 'Dryden' (in 'English Men of Letters Series,' 1881) ; 'Cambridge History of English Literature.'