Erasmus’ book was exuberantly subversive towards the entire intellectual and clerical class to which he belonged. A bestseller during his life-time, within a few years of his passing it was blacklisted by the Vatican and the Sorbonne.

Here he – or should I say she – for he deploys the voice of Folly, obviously in the guise of a woman, to fire off his satirical barbs – takes a pot shot at the literati. And see what he has to say about monarchs.

‘These intellectuals reckon that the approval of one or two bleary-eyed scholars is worth all these drawbacks.’


Source: Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), Praise of Folly, trans. Roger Clarke (Richmond: Oneworld Classics, 2008 (1511)), p. 67


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