Literary/ Cultural Context Note

Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error


A term derived from the title of John Lyly's best-selling prose work,

Euphues; The Anatomy of Wit,

“euphuism” denotes the highly patterned prose style adopted by a host of writers in the last quarter of the sixteenth century, and credited with influencing the language of the Elizabethan court. Though the fundamental characteristics of the form did not originate with Lyly, the style has become synonymous with his work, in that he employed it more systematically and to greater effect than any of the many writers who sought to exploit his success. The style is rooted in antithetical balance, with sentences typically constructed of a series of paired clauses, matching one another syntactically but contrasting in meaning. Oppositions between phrases are pointed by sound patterning (notably…

273 words

Citation: Scragg, Leah. "Euphuism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 June 2003 [, accessed 21 June 2024.]

360 Euphuism 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.