John Lyly was undisputed master of the private theatre stage in the 1570s and 1580s, and this play represents his individual Euphuistic style. It is a love comedy, and retells an ancient legend of the prolonged sleep of the man with whom the moon (Cynthia) fell in love. The fable is piquantly relevant to Queen Elizabeth and her exasperated, if adoring, courtiers. This edition makes an argument for the relevance of "Endymion" to the threat of the Spanish Armada invasion of 1599, and to the role of the Earl of Oxford in England's politics of that troubled decade. Full commentary is provided for every aspect of the play, including its philosophical allegory about the relation of the moon to mortal life on earth.
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David Bevington is Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and Chair of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago
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