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The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919)

by Johan Huizinga

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,656303,717 (4.02)43
"Here is the first full translation into English of one of the 20th century's few undoubted classics of history." --Washington Post Book World The Autumn of the Middle Ages is Johan Huizinga's classic portrait of life, thought, and art in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century France and the Netherlands. 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 will all other European-language translations. For Huizinga, the fourteenth- and fifteenth-century marked not the birth of a dramatically new era in history--the Renaissance--but the fullest, ripest phase of medieval life and thought. However, his work was criticized both at home and in Europe for being "old-fashioned" and "too literary" when The Waning of the Middle Ages was first published in 1919. In the 1924 translation, Fritz Hopman adapted, reduced and altered the Dutch edition--softening Huizinga's passionate arguments, dulling his nuances, and eliminating theoretical passages. He dropped many passages Huizinga had quoted in their original old French. Additionally, chapters were rearranged, all references were dropped, and mistranslations were introduced. This translation corrects such errors, recreating the second Dutch edition which represents Huizinga's thinking at its most important stage. Everything that was dropped or rearranged has been restored. Prose quotations appear in French, with translations preprinted at the bottom of the page, mistranslations have been corrected. "The advantages of the new translation are so many. . . . It is one of the greatest, as well as one of the most enthralling, historical classics of the twentieth century, and everyone will surely want to read it in the form that was obviously intended by the author." --Francis Haskell, New York Review of Books "A once pathbreaking piece of historical interpretation. . . . This new translation will no doubt bring Huizinga and his pioneering work back into the discussion of historical interpretation." --Rosamond McKitterick, New York Times Book Review… (more)

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» See also 43 mentions

English (17)  Dutch (7)  Swedish (2)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
The Waning of the Middle Ages was groundbreaking cultural study when it was published in 1924. He drops a lot of names, assuming that readers automatically know who he is talking about. For example, he mentions Emerson, but does not identify as Ralph Waldo Emerson. He relies on texts from the period and Froissart, Denis the Carthusian, and the Chastellain are frequently referred to by Huizanga. He paints the late Middle Ages as a dark,violent, and melancholy time of contradictions. He argues that the dominant thoughts of the period that governed norms and behaviors literally ran into a dead end leading to new ideas and a new era. ( )
  gregdehler | May 4, 2020 |
There were certainly some interesting topics on chivalry and the political process, for instance, as well as Leaders being accustomed to fighting rather than throwing the peasantry into battle. While I used to be interested in medieval period, this book just did not hold my interest. I suppose I feel more relevant topics to be more useful at this point in my life. ( )
  FourFreedoms | May 17, 2019 |
There were certainly some interesting topics on chivalry and the political process, for instance, as well as Leaders being accustomed to fighting rather than throwing the peasantry into battle. While I used to be interested in medieval period, this book just did not hold my interest. I suppose I feel more relevant topics to be more useful at this point in my life. ( )
  ShiraDest | Mar 6, 2019 |
La malinconica ferocia di un mondo al tramonto. Ideali, canzoni d'amore, tornei dove sovrani veri giocano con i simboli di un passato immaginato.
Un grande libro, un intramontabile classico della storiografia del primo novecento. Si legge come un romanzo perchè in ogni parola risuona l'amore dell'autore per il passato fiammeggiante di un paese scomparso dai libri di storia ( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
Huizinga writes vividly and with a keen eye for an engaging anecdote, but overall I found The Waning of the Middle Ages (also translated into English as The Autumn or The Decline of the Middle Ages) to be more useful as a source for early twentieth-century understandings of the Middle Ages, and indeed for then contemporary culture, than for the medieval period itself. The particular topics on which Huizinga chooses to write are interesting, and indeed presage many of the studies which later cultural historians and historians of mentalité, would produce—feuds and hairstyles, colour symbolism and pageantry.

But the tone and measure of the judgement which Huizinga passes on fourteenth and fifteenth-century western Europe was a turn-off to me. One of the tricky balancing acts which historians must of course perform is to pass judgment without being judgemental; to recognise their own roles in constructing historical narratives without letting their own particular presence warp that narrative. It's not an act which Huizinga pulls off; he is too convinced of the inherent superiority of his own period of history. He condescends to the Middle Ages as a period of childishness, of "superficiality, inexactness, and credulity"; Huizinga repeatedly informs the reader that medieval people said or did or believed things which "we" would of course disdain. I can see why this is a minor classic in the field, but it's not one which I found inspirational. ( )
1 vote siriaeve | Nov 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
De twee eeuwen rond het jaar 1400 in de delen van Frankrijk en Nederland die toen Boergondië vormden, zijn het onderwerp van deze historie. Het is geen politieke geschiedenis, ook geen sociale of economische geschiedenis, maar een mentaliteitsgeschiedenis: hoe dachten en deden die late Middeleeuwen in onze buurt? Bij mijn derde lezing geef ik me gewonnen. Het gaat hier om een meesterwerk. En als ik straks tegen het monument ga schoppen, dan is dat omdat een artikel met louter lof niet prettig lezen is.

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Huizinga, Johanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garin, EugenioIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollo, J. A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hopman, FrederikTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mammitzsch, UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Payton, Rodney JohnsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reutercrona, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van der Lem, AntonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the world when it was half a thousand years younger, the outlines of all things seemed more clearly marked than to us.
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Si l'on avait demandé à Johan Huizinga quel était le sujet fondamental de son livre, affirme Jacques Le Goff, il aurait parlé d'abord de l'imbrication intime du Moyen Âge et de ce que nous appelons la Renaissance. L'Automne du Moyen Âge décrit et analyse les " saveurs ", les " idées ", les " émotions " et les " images " dans lesquelles s'exprime une société qui meurt, celle du Moyen Âge, pour donner naissance à une autre, la Renaissance". Marc Bloch et Lucien Febvre ont souligné le caractère pionnier de ce livre. Huizinga y découvre en effet les nouveaux domaines de l'histoire : le corps, les sens, les rêves et l'imaginaire.
4e de couverture de l'édition 2002
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