A hopeless Romantic?
Lyly, euphuism and a history of non-reading (1632–1905)
in John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship
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This chapter examines the early modern history of the word euphuism and its afterlife in the eighteenth century and beyond. In contrast to work on William Shakespeare's reception history, the chapter charts a history of non-reading, in which John Lyly is ignored in favour of his contemporaries or dismissed because of his presupposed euphuism. The chapter shows how Edward Blount's use of the word euphuism was understood and redefined in Robert Walter Dodsley's 1744 Old Plays. It examines the association of Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde with euphuism at the end of the nineteenth century. The chapter shows how the meaning of euphuism became further dislocated from Lyly himself, whilst simultaneously influencing Lyly's own reception. When the word 'euphuism' was either first coined or first printed, Lyly's print authorship was still being established in prose, in drama and in the imitative use of his protagonist on other peoples' title pages.


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