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The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0226359921, Hardcover)In 1919, Johan Huizinga revealed in the original version of this book that the ideals, aspirations, and behaviors of humanity in history were dramatically different from those in present day. In Herfsttjj der Middeleeuwen, he recalled the waning years of the Middle Ages--the low countries in northern Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries--and argued against those who claimed that human belief systems remain the same even if contexts change. His account rested not on historical fact, but on the emotions and ambitions of the people as expressed through the art and literature of their culture. Many people treated the book as groundbreaking work, and it was translated into English in 1924. This new translation is a complete, more direct version of the original and allows modern readers a full appreciation of life in an era rarely revisited.
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:33 -0400)
So begins one of the most famous works of history ever published, Johan Huizinga's The Autumn of the Middle Ages. Few who have read this book in English realize that The Waning of the Middle Ages, the only previous translation, is vastly different from the original Dutch, and incompatible with all other European-language translations. Now, for the first time ever, the original version of this classic work has been translated into English. Herfsttij der Middeleeuwen, or The Autumn of the Middle Ages - the original title - is a brilliant portrait of life, thought, and art in fourteenth- and fifteenth- century France and the Netherlands. For Huizinga, this period marked not the birth of a dramatically new era in history, the Renaissance, but the fullest, ripest phase of medieval life and thought. Criticized both at home and in Europe for being "old-fashioned" and "too literary" when first published in 1919, the book is now recognized not only for its quality and richness as history, but also as a precursor to the Annales "histoire des mentalites" school of Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre, two of the few reviewers who praised the book initially. In the 1924 translation, Fritz Hopman adapted, reduced, and altered the Dutch edition - softening Huizinga's often passionate arguments, dulling his nuances, and eliminating theoretical passages. He dropped many passages Huizinga had quoted in their original old French. Additionally, chapters are rearranged and redivided, all references are dropped, and mistranslations are introduced. This translation corrects such errors, recreating the second Dutch edition - which represents Huizinga's thinking at its most important stage - as closely as possible. Everything that was dropped or rearranged has been restored. Prose quotations appear in French, with translations printed at the bottom of the page. Mistranslations have been corrected. Payton and Mammitzsch also have added helpful material, including Huizinga's preface to the first and second Dutch editions (published in 1919 and 1921) and the one to the 1924 German translation, where he touches on the book's title and offers some thoughts on translations. Several notes clarify Huizinga's references to things which would be common knowledge only to Dutch readers. Huizinga frequently refers to paintings, sculptures, and carvings, some little known; this edition is the first in any language to include a full range of illustrations.
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