- Taschenbuch: 196 Seiten
- Verlag: Prometheus Books (1. Mai 1994)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0879758856
- ISBN-13: 978-0879758851
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13,7 x 1,3 x 21,5 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 4.463.236 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
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The Praise of Folly (Great Minds) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Mai 1994
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In the tradition of "fool literature" produced by the ferment of new ideas that directly preceded the Protestant Reformation, Dutch priest, humanist, and scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536) composed "The Praise of Folly" in 1509. Under Folly's mask, Erasmus boldly attacked the abuses of church and state, and pilloried the faults of those he saw around him: idle superstition, pedantry, religious hypocrisy, and human foolishness. In this elegant translation from the Latin by John Wilson, the reader can savour a great work of satire, which, in the classical tradition, chastises human beings for their follies and excesses, not with a rod but with a smile.
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One of the wonderful things about reading historical satire is that you get a sense both of the specificity of the time it was written in as well as of the general and enduring idiocies of mankind. Praise of Folly is a great book because it is equal parts familiar (railing about the pedantic nature of scholars) and exotic (discussing the interaction of church and heretics). The book is published together with the Letter to Martin Dorp, defending Praise of Folly to Dorp against charages of being insulting to theologians in general.
The Radice translation is clear, and blessedly puts the notes at the bottom of each page, making them readable. The book also comes with a context-providing introduction and bibliography.
Erasmus doesn't let up. He catalogs every type of fool, every kind of folly, and has room to spare. Reading this funny, I mean, profound book, has given me a new respect for those idiotic life decisions I have made. Looking back over the grand scheme of it all...yikes! I can't believe I did that, said that, acted like that!
I highly recommend this satire for teachers, politicians, priests, professors, administrators, managers, Rotarians, poets, grave diggers, and anyone else tempted toward hypocrisy (and if you think you aren't tempted, I mean you most of all).
Reading this book can make you human again. And that is the first step toward the good life.
My entire view of the middle ages changed practically overnight. Do not miss the fact, people: Erasmus was THE deal. Erasmus makes Luther look like a limp little hothead. Erasmus is Jim Carrey to Voltaire's Carrot Top. Erasmus drows the candle of Aristophanes with a roaring torch. The ultimate critic, the ultimate wit, and the ultimate reason in an age of insanity. Without this fantastic book I may have passed a second 18 years without Erasmus as an inspiration. The pure genius and subtlety of truly the most underappreciated scholar of all time is laid out glowingly. Why did I waste my time with "Mandrake" and "Candide" when "In Praise of Folly" does the same job a thousand times better? Why on earth do we pay attention to Martin Luther, the most incompetant and ridiculous "reformer" of all time, when Erasmus was doing everything twice as good at exactly the same time?
Get this book, people. Understand Erasmus and understand a wisdom that defied an age of stupidity.
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Unless you come to this book as a student of Western Literature or a related educated background having some context before you begin In Praise of Folly is critical. This is fairly well provided in the Introduction. From small things like; the original Latin title can be read as a playful pun directed at England’s Sir Thomas Moore. The two had become friends while Erasmus was visiting him in England and the book was begun if not entirely written under Moore’s roof. The historic context is that Erasmus was also in close contact with Martin Luther. Much of what Erasmus prints in In Praise of Folly is at the expense of some contemporary Roman Catholic practice. Luther had an expectation that its author would follow him into the Protestant schism. Luther would not take it well when Erasmus chose to remaina Catholic. Indeed he had been a monk and am ordained priest. He lived as a scholar, thinker and writer. He is best known as a central figure in the creation of the Humanist Philosophy.
In Praise of Folly is written in the form of a speech given by the Goddess of Folly making her claim of the primacy of Folly in human affairs. Her argument is intentionally faulty and occasionally contradictory but this is all part of the satire. Typical of Folly’s argument is an early one wherein she states that all humans are born in an act of folly. This is a favorite passage of mine, if only because it is early in the book. By the end of the book, about 85 pages, intro included, Folly has touched upon every phase of human life and made some pointed jests some of the extremes and apparent contradictions in religious practice.
It is said that humor does not travel well across time. There are parts to this short book that left me smiling. I cannot claim to have understood many references. There is near the end an appeal to a very aesthetics religious outlook even at the expense of what we now call the sciences. Does Folly/Erasmus intend this to be taken literally or sardonically? Annotation and or footnoting would be a major help in addressing that which is obscured by history or requiring additional context.
By the end of Folly, I felt as though I had been reading a run on sentence. There are distinct parts built into the flow of Folly’s speech. These could have been sectioned off, if only by skipping a few lines between them. The author may not have them in the original. Either way, the cascade of words with no breaks and the heavy, wordy style of the day made this a less pleasant read than it was intended. The right scholars may be able to read this and savor every joke and twist. For the rest a few explanations would help. These are not the fault of the Erasmus, but a recommendation that a better edition might include this additional help.
Short version: this Kindle edition is probably worth 99 cents, but don't expect too much.
1. It is an unaltered "reprint" in digital form of the 1876 London edition by Reeves & Turner and includes the charming woodcut illustrations.
2. The translation (unattributed) is a version of Kennett's 1683 translation, which was updated in the 18th century and often reprinted without attribution, since it is in the public domain. It is a pretty free translation, not particularly accurate, but with a charming turn of phrase. Very lively. But if a 200 year old translation will annoy you, don't get this one. Buy either Clarence Miller's or Betty Radice's translations from the 1970s. Both are on Amazon, Miller on Kindle. Miller is the most thorough, with the best helpful footnotes, and IMHO the best version to get. Get the paperback, not the Kindle, if you want to easily see the notes. Radice may be more readable, depending on your tastes.
3. As usual, this Kindle edition is full of scanning errors. ("Doesn't any human being proofread these things?" he asked foolishly.) Periods have disappeared, but the following capital letter will help. Words are misspelled: clumb for climb, Une for line, and so on. Most are obvious. One particularly egregious example is Just for lust, a mistake which will really make you think: "Why is Just such a bad thing?"
In short, if you are willing to put up with errors and somewhat old-fashioned language, 99 cents may be a reasonable price for the convenience of having this classic on Kindle.
“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, burthensome to himself, and unwelcome to others, pale, lean, thin-jawed, sickly, contracting by his sedentariness such hurtful distempers as bring him to an untimely death, like roses plucked before they shatter. Thus have you, the draught of a wise man’s happiness, more the object of a commiserating pity, than of an ambitioning envy.” (Kindle Locations 701-706).
Who knew there was so much to be said In Praise of Folly? Apparently there is.
In his panegyric of that name, Erasmus, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, and sometimes sounding somewhat like H. L. Mencken to my mind’s ear, says it all. He’s converted me. Bring on passion and frivolity. Stuff reason and wisdom.
Erasmus was a heretic’s heretic—as irascible a curmudgeon as they come. Gotta love ’im. But his writing can be more than a bit tedious to read. Long, long, extra long sentences. Counted 235 words in ONE sentence. I remember being scolded if my sentences went beyond twenty words.
Recommendation: Every student—scholastic or autodidact—should welcome exposure to Erasmus. I’m glad I finally got around to reading him.
“Farewell! live long, drink deep, be jolly, Ye most illustrious votaries of folly!” (Kindle Locations 1793-1794)
Open Road Media. Kindle Edition, 1,828 Kindle Locations