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Donato, Antonio

Donato, Antonio

Individual Fellow

The Dutch Renaissance in Italy: The Italian Legacy of Erasmus’ “Praise of Folly”

What happens when a text developed in a specific cultural and social context is appropriated by another? What strategies are employed to render a text more suitable for an audience different from the intended one? This research tackles these questions by examining the reception in sixteenth century Italy of one of the most iconic Renaissance works: Erasmus’ “Praise of Folly.”

Project Description

Scholars have long acknowledged the extent to which Erasmus of Rotterdam influenced Italian Renaissance intellectuals. However, relatively little attention has been paid to the impact on the Italian Renaissance of his most famous work: “Praise of Folly.” This study aims to fill this gap in the scholarship by examining several sixteenth century Italian imitations of Erasmus’ text. These works permit us to identify the various ways in which the “Praise of Folly” was adapted in order to fit a different cultural and social context. This examination promises to reveal not only which aspects of the “Praise of Folly” survived this acculturation process, but also how certain ideas that were only sketched in the original became expressed more fully in its Italian imitations.

Selected Publications

Italian Renaissance Utopias, (Palgrave/MacMillan, forthcoming)

Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy as a Product of Late Antiquity (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013)

Forgetfulness and Misology in Boethius’ ‘Consolation of Philosophy’, «British Journal of the History of Philosophy» 21 (2013): 463-485