Praise of Folly   -     By: Erasmus
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Praise of Folly

Penguin Classics / 1994 / Paperback

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Product Description

Erasmus of Rotterdam was the greatest of the Renaissance humanists. Praise of Folly, first published in 1511, is both his best-known work and the best introduction to his thought.
Although Erasmus claimed it was written in a week to amuse Sir Thomas More, the dazzling display of playful paradoxes and learned high spirits cannot disguise a far deeper purpose. Folly starts by criticizing everything her creator held dear, and celebrating youth, pleasure, drunkenness and the dizzying sexual desires that created us all. Later sections examine human pretensions, foibles and frailties, mock theologians and monks, and praise the 'folly' of simple Christian piety. Erasmus's wit, wisdom, and mastery of tone made the book an instant but controversial success.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: 1994
ISBN: 0140446087
ISBN-13: 9780140446081

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Publisher's Description

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.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Author Bio

Desiderius Erasmus, (born October 27, 1469, Rotterdam, Holland—died July 12, 1536, Basel, Switzerland) was the greatest scholar of the northern Renaissance, the first editor of the New Testament, and an important figure in classical literature. He helped lay the groundwork for the historical-critical study of the past, and his educational writings contributed to the replacement of the older scholastic curriculum by the new humanist emphasis on the classics. By criticizing ecclesiastical abuses, he encouraged the growing urge for reform, and his independent stance in an age of fierce controversy made him a target of suspicion for loyal partisans on both sides and a beacon for those who valued liberty over orthodoxy.

Betty Radice read classics at Oxford, and became joint editor of 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 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. She died in 1985.

Product Reviews

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  1. Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Praise to folly and blessed are the simple.
    March 15, 2015
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: male
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book was written in 1515 and all I can say is this, from then until now man has not changed.

    Now the letter itself is written by Desiderius Erasmus.

    Erasmus is the one who wrote the New Testament in fresh Greek and Tyndale gathered his works from there.

    I believe I am correct from what I researched.

    Erasmus is a master.

    The start of the book is all about false Gods and how they attribute us to be us. In what way and manner is described by Erasmus in a comedic manner.

    He went on for quite a while and at first I was a little confused thinking this is what Erasmus believed.

    I suffered the text and continued on. He soon left the topic of false Gods and carried on about the vanity of man through Theology, Philosophy and other various fields which is amusing true.

    The intelligence of man, Erasmus is mocking and honestly, this would offend many who place their faith in these men.

    Erasmus knows the truth hurts and voiced out his truth.

    What he said reminds me of the book Ecclesiastes and funny enough Erasmus brought it up.

    He continued on about the vanity of Catholicism and its fakery is a poison.

    He furthered started addressing Christ and the apostles which is where the book took its turn from comedy to let us say spiritual.

    Erasmus points out the difference of believers in Christ and believers in man.

    A great juxtaposition!

    How man's wisdom is folly! while all along man considers it purity yet it is not so.

    It is foolishness.

    Erasmus talks about how belief in God is foolishness and madness in the eyes of the intellect yet in the eyes of God it is but wisdom.

    Fabulous, it is vexing actually. How man has reversed the folly of this world into splendid supremacy and splendid supremacy into folly.

    Splendid supremacy of course being faith in Jesus Christ!

    The book is a great read and certainly an eye opener; do not let the concept of age distort your perceptions as to the accuracy.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 1, 2011
    Howard Sides
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    This book offers great insight into one fo the 5 greatest minds in the Christian faith.
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