No, that is not a misspelling of euphemism. Not surprisingly, Wikipedia had that same thought.
The given description of the style, used to greatest effect by John Lyly, is a peculiar one:
“It consists of a preciously ornate and sophisticated style, employing in deliberate excess a wide range of literary devices such as antitheses, alliterations, repetitions and rhetorical questions. Classical learning and remote knowledge of all kinds are displayed. Euphuism was fashionable in the 1580s, especially in the Elizabethan court, but never previously or subsequently.”
The ‘deliberate excess’ is hardly an uncommon thing in literature these days. Most aspiring authors, trying to make a name for themselves, throw every possible literary trope into a story in order to show what they have learned. As always, not everyone can paint on a canvas and make a masterpiece; there has to be a style to it. Throwing everything in there just reeks of effort.
The article somewhat contradicts itself in saying that the style was never used ‘previously or subsequently’, quoting four instances of Shakespeare using the style. The point of difference may be that the bard used them in a satirical way. Considering the fame that Shakespeare now enjoys, would the use of the rarely used literary style in timeless works make it a flattery?
Euphuism was only the English incarnation of the style. Wikipedia notes its contemporaries as ‘Culteranismo in Spain, Marinismo in Italy, and Préciosité in France’. The Spanish form is described as trying to ‘use as many words as possible to convey little meaning or to conceal meaning’, while the Italian form was ‘an extensive use of antithesis and a whole range of wordplay, on lavish descriptions and a sensuous musicality of the verse’. Where they came from male proponents, the French incarnation was born from ‘lively conversations and playful word games of… the witty and educated intellectual ladies who frequented the salon of Catherine de Vivonne’.
The one common theme to all of these: they are ‘over the top’ in one way or another.
Are there any examples of your own readings that sound like they use these stylings?
There was an interesting conflict surrounding Culteranismo which might need some investigating, and hopefully there will enough behind it for a later post =)