Praise of Folly


A satire on the intrinsic vanity of the social order and an exhortation towards a humanistic Christianity, ‘Praise of Folly’, written in 1509, is one of the most influential books ever written. It is presented here in a new translation which brings out the underlying humour of the original, and contains additional material.

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In addition to a sparkling modern translation of Praise of Folly, this volume also includes other works by Erasmus: Pope Julius Barred from Heaven, Epigram against Pope Julius II and a selection of his Adages. Together with the extensive annotation of the texts, these help to set Erasmus’s masterpiece in an accessible context for the modern reader.A central text of the Renaissance, Praise of Folly is an essential part of the Western canon, without which much that has followed – in culture, theology and literature – would not exist. Deeply subversive in its time, the book, after the initial controversy it created, finally gained acceptance as theologians, philosophers and readers came to appreciate Erasmus’s lucid, playful and eloquent reasoning.