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.
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.
Desiderius Erasmus, (born October 27, 1469, Rotterdam, Hollanddied 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 Livys The War with Hannibal she translated Livys Rome and Italy, Plinys Letters, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise and Erasmuss Praise of Folly, and also wrote the introduction to Horaces Complete Odes and Epodes, all for Penguin Classics. She also edited Edward Gibbons Memoirs of My Life for the Penguin English Library, and edited and annotated her translation of the younger Plinys 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 Whos Who in the Ancient World. Betty Radice was an honorary fellow of St Hildas College, Oxford, and a vice-president of the Classical Association. She died in 1985.
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