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Praise of Folly

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  13,191 ratings  ·  696 reviews
"O Elogio da Loucura, a mais popular e viva de todas as suas obras satíricas, é um panfleto risonho contra o que ele tinha como os males da humanidade- a superstição, o fanatismo, a ignorância, a violência do mundo e do poderio, a falsa e grotesca ciência. Escrito no começo do século XVI, é o golpe de misericórdia assestado nas velhas idéias, nos velhos conceitos, no mundo ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 25th 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1511)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  13,191 ratings  ·  696 reviews


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Roy Lotz
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
In Praise of Brexit

Folly speaks:

About five hundred years ago, a man named Erasmus decided to publish a book praising me. Unbelievably, no one had this idea before, and none since. Nobody has the time or the inclination—nobody besides Erasmus, that is—to sing my praises, apparently. All the other gods get their encomiums, but not me.

Well, perhaps I should take the neglect as a compliment. After all, isn’t it the height of folly not to acknowledge the role that folly plays in human life? So is not
...more
knig
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, favourites
Horatian style satire peppered with innumerable references to Greco-Roman lore which would take a lifetime to decipher: luckily for me, ten days into this Sisyphean task I discovered Phil’s site:

http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartb...

Aint the internet great? The reason the above site is such a treasure is not simply because it spoonfeeds the laziest reader the needful (a word usage I picked up in Sri Lanka: love it), but because it resolves the numerous dilemmas a rookie like me has whilst goog
...more
Florencia
It's a shame that I wasn't able to connect with this book, since its themes are always fascinating. It depends on the execution, naturally. The praise turned into one awfully verbose torment. I imagined Folly talking to me at some café, an incessant chatter using some annoying little voice, like having Jiminy Cricket inside your ear prattling nonsense with tons of sugar in his system, and me, waiting for a coffee that never comes, watching people through the window as they walk by, alone with th ...more
Tristan
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
FOLLY IN PROFUSION, BY ALL MEANS

“Invite a wise man to a feast and he'll spoil the company, either with morose silence or troublesome disputes. Take him out to dance, and you'll swear a cow would have done it better."

description
An allegory of Folly, Quentin Massys, 1510

“Throw off the shackles this infernal quest for wisdom has put on you, you blasted bores!”

Slightly paraphrased, so goes the core tenet of the gospel that most whimsical of metaphysical entities, Folly – using Erasmus as a vessel - evangeliz
...more
George
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
CAN I HAVE AN HALLELUJAH?

“To know nothing is the sweetest life.”—Sophocles (Kindle Locations 263-264)

“Give me any instance then of a man as wise as you can fancy him possible to be, that has spent all his younger years in poring upon books, and trudging after learning, in the pursuit whereof he squanders away the pleasantest time of his life in watching, sweat, and fasting; and in his latter days he never tastes one mouthful of delight, but is always stingy, poor, dejected, melancholy, burthenso
...more
Justin Evans
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In general, I like to think that there is progress in the arts- that geniuses of a later age are likely to be broader and more engaging than geniuses of an earlier age because they have the example of earlier men and women from which to learn. Lately I've been having a hard time holding onto this belief; that I've finally got around to reading Praise of Folly has made it harder still. Erasmus combines a mildly annoying love of classical literature with an amazing ability to wield irony and socia ...more
David Sarkies
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy
Let Stupidity Reign
7 August 2016 - Amsterdam

Well, what better book to read when you are in the Netherlands than Erasmus' tributed to stupidity. Okay, I'm sure he is not being serious, though it is difficult to tell at times, particularly when he suggests that by being an idiot one does become healthy, wealthy (but not necessarily wise – actually, that would be quite the opposite). Actually, healthy is probably not necessarily something that comes either, but certainly wealth seems to come to a
...more
Henk
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Surprisingly funny and witty, full of hyperbole and inversion, like a literary carnival - 3.5 stars
The chief element of happiness is this: to want to be what you are.

Jan Steen - The World Upside Down:
description

A real renaissance work, full of allusions to ancient Greece and Rome, and a goddess who tells of her deeds for the world. Folly is definitely not modest and attest all of mankind’s achievements to herself. Hereby she puts herself squarely into everything that makes humans (sometimes infuriatingly s
...more
Bradley
You know, before I read this, I imagined it was satire.

I couldn't have been more wrong! Indeed, after listening to Dame Folly, goddess extraordinaire, I think I will convert myself wholeheartedly to her teachings.

There has never been a more persuasive tract in literature. Hide thy wisdom, folks! There is no greater treasure than to proclaim just how much folly you possess!


It's especially good for churchmen and writers. The former generally do not know they are being made fun of and the latter ca
...more
sologdin
Hard for me not to crush on Erasmus: cosmopolitan, pacifist, menippean. Learned in ancient writings, interested in allegiance to neither reformation nor counter-reformation, but rather in democratization of Scripture through vernacular translation simultaneous to the construction of critical editions of Scripture in original languages. Not however to be approached casually--he expects the reader to get the jokes and keep up with him. Some minimal knowledge of the ancient literatures and philosop ...more
david
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
“Even the wise man must play the fool if he wishes to beget a child.”

A little background, if you please. This was written in the same century as Shakespeare and Cervantes, check. He lived in the Netherlands, check. His father was a Catholic Priest, check. He was an ordained Roman Catholic priest, check. He is considered the point man for the early ‘humanist movement,’ check. He wrote this in a week while hanging with his friend Thomas More, the ‘Utopia’ guy, check. He never visited the Czech Rep
...more
Anima
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding flow of thoughts! Not an easy reading ( the book has been written more than 500 years ago!), but definitely it is very enjoyable. Loved the humourous displays of many shadowy images of our life, of the society - past, present and future: all of them embracing the same foolishness:)
‘It is Folly that, in a variety of guise, governs cities, appoints magistrates, and supports judicatures. And, in short, makes the whole course of man's life a mere children's play, and worse than push-pin
...more
Imi
A satire from the 16th century told from the perspective of Folly herself, and a criticism against pretentiousness and those who take themselves and their world too seriously. Life is made bearable by a bit of irrationality, a bit of foolishness. Do not let fear of understanding put you off from reading this. The language is certainly playful (which I loved), but it is not overly difficult to make sense of. Having some basic knowledge of Greek gods/deities will help a lot, and some familiarity w ...more
Michael Perkins
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Medieval humor found its final and complete expression at its highest level of the Renaissance in Erasmus' 'The Praise of Folly,' one of the greatest creations of carnival laughter in world literature."

-Mikhail Bakhtin, "Rabelais and His World"


The definite high point of "Folly" comes about halfway through when Erasmus mocks the Church hierarchy, including the Papacy.

Note on the Princeton edition. The editor and translator attempts to engage in a rather ludicrous exercise of trying to force Eras
...more
Frightful_elk
Jan 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
“I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries”

This was said by Theodore Rubin, but it was first said in Praise of Folly. This wonderful book brings life and illumination to that above quote and helps you to appreciate it's fullest meaning. To anyone who would be better: read this book, it will show you
...more
Olivera
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics, for-class, 2018
Good to know that humanity didn't change the slightest since the Middle Ages.
Jane Upshall
May 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Some redeeming parts in the last section but for the most part , I didn’t understand much of it . Good for people who like philosophy, I guess.
Ubiquitousbastard
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic, europe
Again I admit that I'm impressed with a classical author. From his obviously sympathetic view of women at a time when that wasn't exactly common, to his deep understanding of human nature, Erasmus really isn't what I expected from a Catholic clergyman. As with Baldassare Castiglione I found his description of aging to be both poignant and incredibly accurate. When I read Folly's claim that old people enter a kind of second childhood in which they regain some of their lost innocence and wonder, ...more
Klára
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was fun! The flaws of human character have apparently been the same for centuries and will mostly likely remain forever- but Erasmus shows them in such an inventive and light-hearted manner I felt it actually gave me a lot of comfort and perspective.
At the same time I liked the glimpses into specifics of the life in the 16th century - I especially enjoyed discovering all the phrases and proverbs Erasmus uses. I'll probably want to give his Adages a go one day :)

The text for me gets confusin
...more
booklady
I read this many years ago but confess I didn't 'get' most of it. There were many inside jokes about historical figures of the age which I think I would understand a lot better now that I know the history of the period much better. As such I am anxious to reread. I remember at the time finding it very acerbic.
Nynke
I would have liked it more if it had been half its length. It's funny and caustic at times, but it's stretched out too much, too often.
And even though the notes in the back help, it's a shame we miss 99% of the inside jokes, but I suppose that can't be helped.
Marts  (Thinker)
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
... Eramus's reflections on human actions, decisions, placed in a bit of a humurous light ...
Bandit
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be the oldest book I’ve yet to read, 1509. And, appropriately enough, it strives to be the wisest, but cleverly (ironically?) disguising itself as a praise of folly. Erasmus makes oodles of valid points and doesn’t lack in eloquence either, but it’s something of an obstacle course to get through. In all fairness, Erasmus is a splendid sophist, limber linguist and a sophisticated syllogist, one seemingly as partial to hearing himself pontificate as I am to alliterations…and yet th ...more
Matt
Abandoning Praise of Folly at about 1/3 through. I didn’t understand it - there were a lot of references to Greek philosophers, etc. that were way over my head. I also was very disappointed in the lack of satire/humor. Maybe it was in there but I just didn’t get it? I’m disappointed in myself because this book is only 115 pages, but it just wasn’t for me.

I might try to pick this up again at some point, but life is too short for books that don’t make any sense to me.
An Idler
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An attack on man's fallen nature as universal as it is witty and nimble. Using the bedrock of man's sin and irrationality as his foundation, Erasmus builds a satirical edifice that casts a shadow on our hoi-polloi and intelligentsia just as it did on the peasants and popes of the 16th century.
Mommalibrarian
In Praise of Folly is supposed to be a satire. The language is old and the spelling tortured but readable with care. Some of it reads like an old style stand-up comic: 'the Noose of Wedlock' 'ye owe ... to my follower, Madness' and on the getting of children, purview of the goddess of Folly, "the Stoicks too, that conceive themselves next to the Gods, yet shew me one of them .... and if he do not put off his beard, the badge of wisdom, though yet it be no more than what is common with him and go ...more
Tim Weakley
I first read The Praise Of Folly when I was fifteen. My overwhelming impression then, and now, is how easily read this book is given the fact that it's about 500 years old now. I love the humour that Erasmus incorporates into this condemnation of the church at the time. It's clever and very well thought out at the same time. It's difficult to be funny and smart.

It's really held up for me over the years. This particular copy was printed in 1945 in Holland for The Heritage Press and features some
...more
Yasmijn
Very witty, but a bit too much to chew sometimes..
Ron
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, ebook
“So here, though Folly speaker be, and argument which it guides the tongue, wisdom’s the lecture meant.”

Published in 1510, Folly is a satire on the attitudes of the day (1510) formed as an argument in her own defense by Folly personified. In the tradition of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy and leads to Gulliver’s Travels and Candide.

“There is another sort of madness that proceeds from Folly; so far from being any way injurious or distasteful, and this happens when bye a harmless mistake in
...more
Lau
I would've enjoyed this quite a lot more than I did if it weren't sooo mysoginist.
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Goodreads Librari...: Misspelled title on a specific cover/edition 3 15 Dec 11, 2018 11:38PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine editions 3 15 Oct 19, 2017 10:46AM  

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Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus (28 October 1466 – 12 July 1536), known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian.

Erasmus was a classical scholar and wrote in a pure Latin style. Among humanists he enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists", and has been called "the crowning glory of the Christian human
...more

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