Desiderius Erasmus Criticism - Essay

Victoria Kahn (essay date 1985)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kahn, Victoria. “Erasmus: Prudence and Faith.” In Rhetoric, Prudence, and Skepticism in the Renaissance, pp. 89-114. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985.

[In the following essay, Kahn relates the dispute between Luther and Erasmus on free will in order to highlight the paradoxes in Erasmus's positions on folly and prudence.]

Vide, huc perpulit Diatriben imprudentem invicibilis et potentissima veritas, et stultam fecit sapientiam eius, ut contra nos dictura, pro nobis se dicere cogeretur. [See how the invincible and all-powerful truth has cornered witless Diatribe and turned her wisdom into folly, so that while meaning to speak...

(The entire section is 13125 words.)

C. A. Patrides (essay date winter 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Patrides, C. A. “Erasmus and More: Dialogues with Reality.” Kenyon Review 8, no. 1 (winter 1986): 34-48.

[In this essay, Patrides compares Erasmus's Praise of Folly and other works to the Utopia of his friend and peer Thomas More, contrasting the playful approach of the former with the darker tones of the latter.]

Sancte Socrates, ora pro nobis!”—“Saint Socrates, pray for us!” So exclaims a character in one of Erasmus's colloquies, and, ever since, readers have been either dazzled by the boldness of the great humanist or distressed by the limitations of his spiritual horizons. But perhaps we are not often enough inclined to be amused,...

(The entire section is 7730 words.)

John W. O'Malley (essay date spring 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: O'Malley, John W. “Grammar and Rhetoric in the Pietas of Erasmus.” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 18, no. 1 (spring 1988): 81-98.

[In the following essay, O'Malley suggests that it was as a grammarian that Erasmus chiefly defined his humanism, meaning that Erasmus tended to place greater value on texts and teaching rather than on oratory and public life. O'Malley considers how this stance influenced Erasmian theology, including his more mystical, contemplative brand of Christianity and his emphasis on Christ as a teacher of philosophy.]

When Erasmus in both 1523 and 1530 categorized into various ordines his writings up to those...

(The entire section is 7728 words.)

Laurel Carrington (lecture date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Carrington, Laurel. “Erasmus on the Use and Abuse of Metaphor.” In Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Torontonensis: Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, edited by Alexander Dalzell, Charles Fantazzi, and Richard J. Schoeck, pp. 111-20. Binghamton, N.Y.: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1991.

[In this lecture read at a 1988 conference, Carrington links Erasmus's work on metaphor and ideal language to his theology. She contends that, for Erasmus, metaphor is both the sign of a fallen language and the means through which divinely inspired understanding of scripture can occur.]

Although my paper's title points to...

(The entire section is 3899 words.)

Barbara Correll (essay date summer 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Correll, Barbara. “Malleable Material, Models of Power: Woman in Erasmus's ‘Marriage Group’ and Civility in Boys.ELH 57, no. 2 (summer 1990): 241-262.

[In the essay below, Correll reads some of Erasmus's Colloquies to illuminate how discourse about women serves to address cultural concerns about the masculine self. Correll includes consideration of Erasmus's writings about boys as an example of both symbolically feminine roles and weakened masculinity.]

Dic, Eutrapele: uter infirmior, qui cedit alteri, an cui ceditur?1


Renaissance studies in English...

(The entire section is 9280 words.)

Michael J. Heath (lecture date 1991)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Heath, Michael J. “Erasmus and the Laws of Marriage.” In Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Hafniensis: Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, edited by Rhoda Schnur, Ann Moss, et al., pp. 477-84. Binghamton, N.Y.: Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, 1994.

[In this lecture, originally read at a 1991 conference, Heath discusses Erasmus's controversial proposals for reforming marriage laws and the unorthodox thought behind them. He observes Erasmus's mixed views on women's humanity as well as his then-unusual belief in the value of sexual relationships.]

Erasmus published the Christiani matrimonii institutio,...

(The entire section is 3608 words.)

Forrest Tyler Stevens (essay date 1994)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Stevens, Forrest Tyler. “Erasmus's ‘Tigress’: The Language of Friendship, Pleasure, and the Renaissance Letter.” In Queering the Renaissance, edited by Jonathan Goldberg, pp. 124-40. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Stevens focuses on Erasmus's letters to his friend Servatius in order to highlight the sexual rhetoric that has more often been interpreted as a nonsexual literary convention. Stevens reads those letters alongside Erasmus's manual on letter writing, De conscribendis epistolis, to show how gender conventions influence whether or not a letter with sexual or amatory language would have been considered inappropriate.]...

(The entire section is 7109 words.)

James Kelsey McConica (lecture date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: McConica, James Kelsey. “The English Reception of Erasmus.” In Erasmianism: Idea and Reality, edited by M. E. H. N. Mout, H. Smolinsky, and J. Trapman, pp. 37-46. Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1997.

[In this lecture read at a 1996 colloquium, McConica discusses the early influence of Erasmus on English humanism, particularly in the schools. McConica also notes the importance of the church and state in facilitating the acceptance of Erasmian humanism.]

I propose to address the topic of this colloquium, ‘Erasmianism: Idea and Reality’ not from the aspect of text, or of authorial intention, but from evidence less dramatic but...

(The entire section is 5364 words.)

James D. Tracy (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Tracy, James D. “The Philosophy of Christ.” In Erasmus of the Low Countries, pp. 104-15. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

[In the essay below, Tracy considers Erasmus's reform doctrine in the context of political and religious developments of his age. In his reform writings, Tracy claims, Erasmus struggles with the failures of the contemporary church to exemplify the doctrines of the Gospels.]

Erasmus began speaking of “the philosophy of Christ” (sometimes “Christian philosophy”) in works about 1515. Already in Julius Exclusus he seems on the threshold of introducing the idea when St. Peter contrasts the divine simplicity of...

(The entire section is 6451 words.)

Lisa Jardine (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jardine, Lisa. “Reading and the Technology of Textual Affect: Erasmus's Familiar Letters and Shakespeare's King Lear.” In The Practice and Representation of Reading in England, edited by James Raven, Helen Small, and Naomi Tadmor, pp. 77-101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

[In this essay, Jardine begins with a study of Erasmus's letters as an example of a technical method of expressing and producing feeling. Erasmus's epistolary methods then provide a context for a reading of King Lear, in which the methodical expression of feeling consistently proves to be false. Jardine concludes that a Renaissance audience schooled in Erasmian ideals of rhetoric...

(The entire section is 10875 words.)

Kathy Eden (essay date July 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Eden, Kathy. “‘Between Friends All is Common’: The Erasmian Adage and Tradition.” Journal of the History of Ideas 59, no. 3 (July 1998): 405-19.

[In this essay, Eden shows how Erasmus takes the adage genre as a literary type and makes it a symbol of his philosophy of friendship and community. Eden focuses on Erasmus's adaptations of Pythagoras and Plato as primary instances of how the adage itself is an object or kind of property to be shared among friends in the ideal community.]

In 1508 eager readers received the Aldine edition of Erasmus's Adages, the Adagiorum chiliades. Replacing the much smaller Paris Collectanea of 1500, the...

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Katy O'Brien Weintraub (essay date 2000)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Weintraub, Katy O'Brien. “O Sancte Socrate, Ora Pro Nobis: Erasmus on the Problem of Athens and Jerusalem.” In Cultural Visions: Essays in the History of Culture, edited by Penny Schine Gold and Benjamin C. Sax, pp. 259-70. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2000.

[In the following essay, Weintraub looks at Erasmus's efforts to reconcile Christian with pre-Christian thought by focusing on his writings on Socrates, including his famous request, “O Saint Socrates, pray for us.” Weintraub finds that Erasmus does not follow the pattern of other early Christian humanists by using the notion of “natural reason” to unite the two traditions, but instead employs a theological strategy that...

(The entire section is 7204 words.)

Erika Rummel (essay date 2001)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Rummel, Erika. “Erasmian Humanism in the Twentieth Century.” Comparative Criticism 23 (2001): 57-67.

[In this essay, Rummel classifies the realms of Erasmus's influence in terms of philology, theology, pedagogy, and civility (a blend of the philosopher's commitments to community, tolerance, and peace). Rummel contends that except for a resurgence of interest in Erasmus as a theologian, most modern “Erasmian” movements are not related closely enough to the original and unique thought of Erasmus himself to qualify as truly modern Erasmianism.]

In 1996 the participants in a conference at Groningen, entitled ‘Erasmianism: Idea and Reality’, attempted to...

(The entire section is 4483 words.)