John Lyly is the first collection of essays dedicated solely to the work of this University Wit, celebrity prose writer, and playwright to the court of Elizabeth. Lyly's energy and wit inspired his contemporaries to follow new directions in prose fiction and stage comedy, and his writings still illuminate sixteenth-century culture for the modern reader. The twenty-four essays in this selection include some older classics, but most date from 1990 onwards and reflect current critical concerns with politics and sexuality, class and audience. Both Euphues books and the eight plays receive some detailed attention. The essays are grouped into four sections: Lessons in Wit, Courting the Queen, Playing with Desire, and Performing Lyly. A biographical summary and critical survey are provided in the introduction; other voices and insights are alluded to in the notes and listed in the wide-ranging bibliography.

    Contents: Introduction; Part I Lessons in Wit: Euphues and his Erasmus, Judith Rice Henderson; 'A large occasion of discourse': John Lyly and the art of civil conversation, Catherine Bates; The prose style of John Lyly, Jonas A. Barish; The humanist in the market: gendering exchange and authorship in Lyly's Euphues romances, Joan Pong Linton. Part II Courting the Queen: Elizabethan epideictic drama: praise and blame in the plays of Peele and Lyly, R. Headlam Wells; The monarchy of love in Lyly's 'Endimion', Robert S. Knapp; Lyly's 'Endimion' and 'Midas': the Catholic question in England, David Bevington; 'O unquenchable thirst of gold': Lyly's 'Midas' and the English quest for empire, Annaliese Connolly; The subversion of flattery: the Queen's body in John Lyly's 'Sapho and Phao', Theodora A. Jankowski; Lyly's chimerical vision: witchcraft in 'Endymion', Christine M. Neufeld; 'I would fain serve': John Lyly's career at court, Derek B. Alwes; John Lyly and the politics of language, Leah Scragg. Part III Playing with Desire: John Lyly and the language of play, Jocelyn Powell; The disarming of the knight: comic parody in Lyly's Endymion, Sara Deats; Ovidian myth in Lyly's courtship comedies, Jeff Shulman; The Woman in the Moon: cursed be Utopia, Michael Pincombe; Constructions of female homoerotics in early modern drama, Denise A. Walen; Cross-dressing and John Lyly's 'Gallathea', Christopher Wixson; 'Jack hath not Jill': failed courtship in Lyly and Shakespeare, David Bevington; The transformation of stage courtship, Anne Jennalie Cook. Part IV Performing Lyly: Female roles and the children's companies: Lyly's Pandora in 'The Woman in the Moon', Maurice Charney; Speaking pictures: style and spectacle in Lylyian comedy, Leah Scragg; The confusions of 'Gallathea': John Lyly as popular dramatist, Kent Cartwright; Playing with Lyly: theatrical criticism and non-Shakespearean drama, Kate D. Levin; Name index.


    Ruth Lunney, University of Newcastle, Australia

    'Lunney's collection of essays is an indispensable handbook for students, teachers and scholars alike. It outlines the major strands in scholarship and gives an excellent summary of the often contradictory ideas about the mostly neglected literary works of John Lyly.' Sixteenth-Century Studies