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date: 17 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The essence of this article is the minor genre of paradox. Though today considered obscure, a minor genre, the paradox has flourished from time to time since the classical period, enjoying significant popularity in England at the turn of the seventeenth century. An important problem for criticism is why the paradox emerged and flourished in England at this particular time. It had developed in two related traditions: the mock encomium and the argument against received opinion. In the former, the paradox was like a ‘roast’ — ironic praise, replete with burlesqued conventions of formal encomium, for someone or something unworthy of praise. In the sixteenth century the outstanding example of the mock encomium was Desiderius Erasmus' famous Moriae Encomium, a declamation in praise of folly that raised this tradition of the genre to unparalleled force and complexity. The paradox as argument against received opinion, however, disputed common sense concerning ethical and other doctrines.

Keywords: genre, paradox, ironic praise, Desiderius Erasmus, Moriae Encomium, classical period

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