Clarence Miller, the learned editor and commentator of Erasmus's Praise of Folly, made a challenging remark in a recent issue of Renaissance Quarterly. In discussing a collection of essays on the Moria and the Colloquies,he observes in conclusion that it is “very difficult to say much that is both new and true” about Erasmus's satire. With a view to the flood of secondary literature on the subject, his observation seems quite to the point.
I shall illustrate a number of basic textual ingredients in the Moria whose origin has escaped the attention of Erasmus specialists, namely, Dutch proverbs and expressions. More than once it is Folly herself that suggests she is going to quote from the vernacular.