London: Printed for Jacob Tonson and Abel Swall, 1679. First edition thus. First edition of an adaptation of the Shakespeare play, including a fifth act written by Dryden. Variant issue with Tonson's name preceding Swall's in the imprint, another issue has Swall’s name first in imprint. Small quarto (8 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches; 207 x 160 mm). , 69, [1, epilogue], [1, advertisements], [1, blank] pp. Complete with a final advertisement leaf and the Duke Poem bound as the last leaf of the preliminaries. Nineteenth-century three-quarter navy morocco over marbled boards. Spine stamped and lettered in gilt. Top edges gilt. Top margin occasionally trimmed close, only affecting the headline or page number on occasion. Some toning throughout. Minor repair to fore-edge of advertisement leaf, not affecting text. An occasional top corner flaked off, not affecting text. Overall a very good copy.
"Copies are known in which the order of Swall and Tonson's names is reversed in the imprint; and copies are frequently found with a leaf, containing lines ’To Mr. Dryden on his Play, Called, Truth Found Too Late’ signed ’R. Duke.’, inserted usually before the advertisement but sometimes among the preliminaries. Probably some copies were issued before that leaf was prepared.
One of Shakespeare's less popular plays until the 20th century, Troilus and Cressida enjoyed much greater success in its adapted form during the 18th and 19th centuries. Seeking to clarify the language and bring the plot in line with Aristotelian form, Dryden created a tragedy that pleased contemporary audiences. "Its success both on the stage and in print suggests that the Restoration dramatist not only understood the demands of his contemporary audience, but was able to carry out his intentions toward that audience as well" (Bernhardt). The failed romance of the Trojan prince and the vulnerable widow Cressida might have fallen into dramatic obscurity but for Dryden's adept rewriting; and it became a strong piece of evidence in favor of his own literary prowess.
(Pforzheimer 915, entry for the Swall first imprint issue). ESTC R16367. Jaggard, 476-477. Macdonald, Dryden, 84ai. Pforzheimer 915. Wing D2388 . (Item #2189)