Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

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Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam

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Excerpt

The student of Erasmus is at first overwhelmed by the abundance of the material before him. A man who has left to posterity enough to fill eleven folio volumes would seem to have made a biographer unnecessary. Especially when two of these volumes are filled with personal letters, more than eighteen hundred in number, and addressed to some five hundred correspondents, it might well seem that the best biography would be a faithful transcript of what the man himself has given us. And, in fact, almost all that we know about Erasmus comes through himself. The singular thing is that with this great mass of material we know so little that is definite about him.

He lived in one of the most eventful periods of the world's history, and was in some kind of personal relation with its leading actors; and yet his life, from beginning to end, has not one event more important or stirring than a journey in winter, an attack of illness, a quarrel with some fellow scholar, or a change of residence. Our whole knowledge of his early life up to the period of production is de. rived from a very brief record made by himself many years afterward and made obviously with both a literary and a practical purpose.

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