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By John Lyly
Devised as an entertainment for a Tudor monarch, Galatea might be seen, paradoxically, as a parable for our time. Inhabiting a world engaged in a process of change, the characters find themselves locked in a series of transgressive situations that speak directly to contemporary experience and twenty-first-century critical concerns. Same-sex relationships, shifts of authority, and the destabilization of meaning all lend the play a surprising modernity, making it at once the most accessible of Lyly’s plays and the one most frequently performed today.
Designed for the student reader, Leah Scragg’s edition offers a range of perspectives on the work. An extensive introduction locates the play in the context of the Elizabethan court, opening a window onto a kind of drama very different from that of more familiar sixteenth-century writers, such as Marlowe and Shakespeare. The latter’s indebtedness to the play is fully documented, while detailed critical and performance histories allow an insight into the work’s susceptibility to reinterpretation. — .