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.
'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