The Contemplative Cosmos: John Lyly’s Endymion and the Shape of Early Modern Space

The Contemplative Cosmos: John Lyly’s Endymion and the Shape of Early Modern Space Abstract: Written at a time when the nature of place was reimagined, John Lyly’s Endymion draws upon Neoplatonic theories of desire to present space as a domain continually reshaped by contemplative thought. In his commentary on Plato’s Symposium , Marsilio Ficino argues that desire can traverse the cosmos in an ecstatic flight toward the Beautiful and the Good, bringing the contemplative soul closer to its object of devotion. Lyly’s play represents this negotiation of earthly and heavenly beauty in Endymion’s simultaneous attraction to Tellus and Cynthia, an attraction that locates Endymion somewhere between the earth and the moon. Lyly, in turn, maps the structure of contemplative desire—namely, its uneven distribution across lover and beloved—onto the early modern court, transforming political space into a sphere shaped by devotion. Together, Ficino and Lyly reveal the way that contemplative thought extends itself across bodies and spaces in early modern culture. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

The Contemplative Cosmos: John Lyly’s Endymion and the Shape of Early Modern Space

The Contemplative Cosmos: John Lyly’s Endymion and the Shape of Early Modern Space


by Andrew Bozio Written at a time when the nature of place was reimagined, John Lyly's Endymion draws upon Neoplatonic theories of desire to present space as a domain continually reshaped by contemplative thought. In his commentary on Plato's Symposium, Marsilio Ficino argues that desire can traverse the cosmos in an ecstatic flight toward the Beautiful and the Good, bringing the contemplative soul closer to its object of devotion. Lyly's play represents this negotiation of earthly and heavenly beauty in Endymion's simultaneous attraction to Tellus and Cynthia, an attraction that locates Endymion somewhere between the earth and the moon. Lyly, in turn, maps the structure of contemplative desire--namely, its uneven distribution across lover and beloved--onto the early modern court, transforming political space into a sphere shaped by devotion. Together, Ficino and Lyly reveal the way that contemplative thought extends itself across bodies and spaces in early modern culture. ARLY in John Lyly's Endymion, The Man in the Moon, the eponymous shepherd laments his "mangled and disordered mind," claiming that the distortion of his thoughts lies in his love for the moon.1 As Endymion explains to his friend Eumenides, he is "settled either to die or possess the moon herself," and his ardor for the celestial body proves tortuous for the way that it stretches Endymion's mind across space: "My thoughts, Eumenides, are stitched to the stars, which, being as high as I can see, thou mayest imagine how much higher they are than I can reach" (1.1.4­7). The paradox of Endymion's desire, then, 1Lyly, Endymion, in English Renaissance Drama, ed. David Bevington et al. (New York: Norton, 2002), 2.1.25­26. All further citations of Endymion are from this edition and will be made parenthetically. 55 © 2016 Studies in Philology, Incorporated Lyly's Endymion and the Shape of Early Modern Space is that...
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University of North Carolina Press
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Copyright © 2008 The University of North Carolina Press.
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1543-0383
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Abstract

Abstract: Written at a time when the nature of place was reimagined, John Lyly’s Endymion draws upon Neoplatonic theories of desire to present space as a domain continually reshaped by contemplative thought. In his commentary on Plato’s Symposium , Marsilio Ficino argues that desire can traverse the cosmos in an ecstatic flight toward the Beautiful and the Good, bringing the contemplative soul closer to its object of devotion. Lyly’s play represents this negotiation of earthly and heavenly beauty in Endymion’s simultaneous attraction to Tellus and Cynthia, an attraction that locates Endymion somewhere between the earth and the moon. Lyly, in turn, maps the structure of contemplative desire—namely, its uneven distribution across lover and beloved—onto the early modern court, transforming political space into a sphere shaped by devotion. Together, Ficino and Lyly reveal the way that contemplative thought extends itself across bodies and spaces in early modern culture.

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 18, 2016

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