Synopses & Reviews
The best introduction to the work of Erasmus, this is one of the finest masterpieces of the sixteenth century, updated and superbly translated to reflect the latest scholarly research.
Erasmus of Rotterdam (c. 1466-1536) is one of the greatest figures of the Renaissance humanist movement, which abandoned medieval pieties in favour of a rich new vision of the individual's potential. Praise of Folly, written to amuse his friend Sir Thomas More, is Erasmus's best-known work. Its dazzling mixture of fantasy and satire is narrated by a personification of Folly, dressed as a jester, who celebrates youth, pleasure, drunkenness and sexual desire, and goes on to lambast human pretensions, foibles and frailties, to mock theologians and monks and to praise the 'folly' of simple Christian piety. Erasmus's wit, wordplay and wisdom made the book an instant success, but it also attracted what may have been sales-boosting criticism. The Letter to Maarten van Dorp, which is a defence of his ideas and methods, is also included.
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Erasmus ranges from light-hearted jibes to vehement denunciation of the theologians and churchmen, monastic life and the condition of the Church, and then seriously expounds the virtues of the Christian way of life. This work is one of the best satirical classics of the Renaissance.
Includes bibliographical references (p. lv-lvi) and index.
About the Author
Betty Radice read classics at Oxford, then married and, in the intervals of bringing up a family, tutored in classics, philosophy and English. She became joint editor of the Penguin Classics in 1964. As well as editing the translation of Livy’s The War with Hannibal she translated Livy’s Rome and Italy, Pliny’s Letters, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise and Erasmus’s Praise of Folly, and also wrote the introduction to Horace’s Complete Odes and Epodes, all for the Penguin Classics. She also edited Edward Gibbon’s Memoirs of My Life for the Penguin English Library, and edited and annotated her translation of the younger Pliny’s works for the Loeb Library of Classics and translated from Renaissance Latin, Greek and Italian for the Officina Bodoni of Verona. She collaborated as a translator in the Collected Works of Erasmus, and was the author of the Penguin Reference Book Who’s Who in the Ancient World. Betty Radice was an honorary fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and a vice-president of the Classical Association. Betty Radice died in 1985.
Table of Contents
Preface to the 1993 Edition
1. The importance of the Praise of Folly
2. Erasmus, scholastics, humanists and reformers
3. The Praise of Folly, Dorp and the spirituality of Erasmus
Praise of Folly
Moriae Encomium, that is, the Praise of Folly
Letter to Maarten Van Dorp, 1515