For the first time since 1695, a complete text of De Arte Graphica as Dryden himself wrote it is available to readers. In all, Volume XX presents six pieces written during Dryden's final decade, each of them either requested by a friend or commissioned by a publisher. Two are translations, three introduce translations made by others, and the sixth introduces an original work by one of Dryden's friends.
The most recent version of De Arte Graphica, Saintsbury's late nineteenth-century reissue of Scott's edition, based the text of the translated matter on an edition that was heavily revised by someone other than Dryden. In fact, only one of the pieces offered here, the brief Character of Saint-Evremond, has appeared complete in a twentieth-century edition. The commentary in this volume supplies biographical and bibliographical contexts for these pieces and draws attention to the views on history and historians, poetry and painting, Virgil and translation, which Dryden expresses in them.
Many other volumes of prose, poetry, and plays are available in the California Edition of The Works of John Dryden.
Volume XX has been edited by A. E. Wallace Maurer, Professor of English at Ohio State University; its text has been established by George R. Guffey, Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. Alan Roper, the General Editor, and Vinton A. Dearing, the Textual Editor of the edition, are both Professors of English at UCLA.