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Conceiving Desire in Lyly and ShakespeareMetaphor, Cognition and Eros$
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Gillian Knoll

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428521

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428521.001.0001

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The Erotic Potential of Idleness in Lyly’s Drama

The Erotic Potential of Idleness in Lyly’s Drama

(p.42) Chapter 1 The Erotic Potential of Idleness in Lyly’s Drama
Conceiving Desire in Lyly and Shakespeare

Gillian Knoll

Edinburgh University Press

By consistently refusing to subordinate eros to other actions that characters might undertake in its name, John Lyly confirms that desire itself can be the main event of a play. Chapter 1 explores the role of potentiality, what Aristotle calls dunamis, as both the source of erotic change and its medium in John Lyly’s plays. The chapter begins by surveying metaphors of motion and stillness that dramatize subtle erotic changes in Lyly’s plays, and then focuses on idleness, an experience his characters conceive less as physical stasis than as movement without purpose or telos. Idleness has a peculiar, counterintuitive, feel to it in Galatea, a play that explores alternatives to the fast-paced, teleological movement typically associated with sexual pursuit. Galatea, Phillida, and the nymphs who fall in love with them discover the queer erotic potential of circuitous language that prolongs desire and defers closure.

Keywords:   Galatea, Sappho and Phao, Idleness, Stillness, Motion, Potential, Aristotle, Queer

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