In Praise of Folly Desiderius Erasmus - Because some of English extant translations of In Praise of Folly are from the 18th, 19, and 20th centuries, Ive endeavored to present a version with the American reader in mind. Although Erasmus cunning, wit, and sharp criticism are timeless, he wrote in Latin. While Latin is a dead language and fixed, American English transforms itself with each passing year so that meanings change.Erasmus deserves not only to be read, but also to be understood.Folly Erasmus' mouthpiece praises herself endlessly, arguing that life would be dull, colorless, and plain boring without her. In her work she is aided by her assistants: Self Love, Flattery, Oblivion, and Pleasure, whom she believes promote friendship and tolerance within society.Folly praises foolishness, levity, humor, nonsense, and even madness, finding Biblical support in favor of her beliefs. Her entire speech is and endless invective which sets foolishness against authority and pseudo wisdom. Even as she ends her meditations she manages to be sarcastic :I perceive now, that, for a concluding treat, you expect a formal epilogue, and the summing up of all in a brief recitation; but I will assure you, you are grossly mistaken if you suppose that after such a hodge-podge medley of speech I should be able to recollect anything I have delivered.This witty, influential work by one of the greatest scholars of the Renaissance satirizes the shortcomings of the upper classes and religious institutions of the time. The most effective of all Erasmus's writings ripe with allusions, vignettes, and caricatures the literary gem was not only an extremely intelligent and articulate response to pretentiousness of all sorts, it also proved to be spiritual dynamite, leaving monastic brothers and clergymen the objects of universal laughter.The book's purported narrator, the goddess Folly, proclaims herself to be the daughter of Youth and Wealth, nursed by Drunkenness and Ignorance. She is accompanied by such followers as Self-love, Pleasure, Flattery, and Sound Sleep.A clever mix of drollery and fantasy, fast-paced and lighthearted in tone, the work has proved to be a lively and valuable commentary on modern times. It remains, according to the great Dutch historian John Huizinga, "a masterpiece of humour and wise irony something that no one else could have given to the world."
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (/dzdris ræzms/; English: Erasmus of Rotterdam or Erasmus;[note 1] 28 October 1466 12 July 1536) was a Dutch philosopher and Catholic theologian who is considered one of the greatest scholars of the northern Renaissance. As a Catholic priest, he was an important figure in classical scholarship who wrote in a pure Latin style. Among humanists he enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists", and has been called "the crowning glory of the Christian humanists". Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament, which raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote On Free Will, In Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation. He remained a member of the Catholic Church all his life, remaining committed to reforming the Church and its clerics' abuses from within. He also held to the doctrine of synergism, which some Reformers (Calvinists) rejected in favor of the doctrine of monergism. His middle-road (via media) approach disappointed, and even angered, scholars in both camps.
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