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John Lyly   By: (1881-1969)

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[Transcriber's Note:

This e text contains one Greek word that has been transliterated and placed inside slashes: /Euphuês/.]




B.A., Late Scholar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. Members' Prizeman, 1902. Harness Prizeman, 1904. Honours in Historical Tripos.

Macmillan and Bowes Cambridge 1905



The following treatise was awarded the Harness Prize at Cambridge in 1904. I have, however, revised it since then, and in some matters considerably enlarged it.

A list of the chief authorities to whom I am indebted will be found at the end of the book, but it is fitting that I should here make particular mention of my obligations to the exhaustive work of Mr Bond[1]. Not only have his labours of research and collation lightened the task for me, and for any future student of Lyly, to an incalculable extent, but the various introductory essays scattered up and down his volumes are full of invaluable suggestions.

[1] The Complete Works of John Lyly. R. W. Bond, 3 Vols. Clarendon Press.

This book was unfortunately nearing its completion before I was able to avail myself of Mr Martin Hume's Spanish Influence on English Literature . But, though I might have added more had his book been accessible earlier, I was glad to find that his conclusions left the main theory of my chapter on Euphuism untouched.

Much as has been written upon John Lyly, no previous critic has attempted to cover the whole ground, and to sum up in a brief and convenient form the three main literary problems which centre round his name. My solution of these problems may be faulty in detail, but it will I hope be of service to Elizabethan students to have them presented in a single volume and from a single point of view. Furthermore, when I undertook this study, I found several points which seemed to demand closer attention than they had hitherto received. It appeared to me that the last word had not been said even upon the subject of Euphuism, although that topic has usurped the lion's share of critical treatment. And again, while Lyly's claims as a novelist are acknowledged on all hands, I felt that a clear statement of his exact position in the history of our novel was still needed. Finally, inasmuch as the personality of an author is always more fascinating to me than his writings, I determined to attempt to throw some light, however fitful and uncertain, upon the man Lyly himself. The attempt was not entirely fruitless, for it led to the interesting discovery that the fully developed euphuism was not the creation of Lyly, or Pettie, or indeed of any one individual, but of a circle of young Oxford men which included Gosson, Watson, Hakluyt, and possibly many others.

I have to thank Mr J. R. Collins and Mr J. N. Frazer, the one for help in revision, and the other for assistance in Spanish. But my chief debt of gratitude is due to Dr Ward, the Master of Peterhouse, who has twice read through this book at different stages of its construction. The readiness with which he has put his great learning at my disposal, his kindly interest, and frequent encouragement have been of the very greatest help in a task which was undertaken and completed under pressure of other work.

As the full titles of authorities used are to be found in the list at the end, I have referred to works in the footnotes simply by the name of their author, while in quoting from Euphues I have throughout employed Prof. Arber's reprint. Should errors be discovered in the text I must plead in excuse that, owing to circumstances, the book had to be passed very quickly through the press.



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