The Praise of Folly
Erasmus was one of the greatest scholars of the Renaissance, involved most notably in debates concerning the church. In this witty work he 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 – this literary gem was not only an intelligent and articulate response to pretentiousness, it also proved to be spiritual dynamite, subjecting monastic brothers and clergymen to public ridicule.
The book’s 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 Pleasure, Flattery and Sound Sleep.
A clever mix of drollery and fantasy, fastpaced and lighthearted in tone, this work remains, as the great Dutch historian Johan Huizinga put it, ‘a masterpiece of humor and wise irony’.