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.

Original title
Lof der Zotheid
Desiderius Erasmus

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’.

One of the wonderful things about reading this historical satire is that you get such a rich sense of the specifics of the time in which it was written as well as the general and enduring idiocies of mankind. The 'Praise of Folly' is a great book.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Erasmus strips naked the vanities of politicians, intellectuals, theologians, poets, monks, priests, Popes, magicians, yet the most surprising thing about this book, first published in 1511, is its relevance to today’s world.

Desiderius Erasmus
Humanist and theologian Desiderius Erasmus was born in Rotterdam, probably in 1466. After living in a monastery and in Paris he became Professor of Divinity and of Greek at Cambridge University in England.
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