Challenging the tendency to disparage Nashe's writing as the product of an eccentric sensibility and to explain his texts in journalistic terms more appropriate to modern commercial publishing, this work provides an entirely new interpretation of the economic context of sixteenth-century literature. Lorna Hutson reveals hitherto overlooked links between humanist approaches to the literary text and the transformation of the English economy through humanist-inspired policies of ethical and social reform; from this context, Nashe's textual prodigality emerges as an assault upon the contemporary impoverishment of literary activity caused by the political over-valuing of the printed word. Generic precedents turn out to be festive; each of Nashe's apparently unstructured pamphlets derives shaping energy from traditions of popular-festive mockery. The pamphlets bring an older conception of seasonal prosperity into subversive dialogue with the newer discourse of provident individualism. For Nashe, stylistic experiment is shown to mean more than a choice of style; it is, rather, the expression of an intricate, socially engaged imagination.