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by Johan Huizinga,Rodney J. Payton,Ulrich Mammitzsch

"Here is the first full translation into English of one of the 20th century's few undoubted classics of history." —Washington Post Book WorldThe 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
Download The Autumn of the Middle Ages epub
ISBN: 0226359948
ISBN13: 978-0226359946
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Johan Huizinga,Rodney J. Payton,Ulrich Mammitzsch
Language: English
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Paperback edition (November 24, 1997)
Pages: 490 pages
ePUB size: 1274 kb
FB2 size: 1280 kb
Rating: 4.4
Votes: 829
Other Formats: lit mobi mbr azw

The five stars are for the original translation titled "The Waning of the Middle Ages," first published in 1949. Amazon doesn't (and should) have a separate listing for "The Autumn of the Middle Ages," a 1996 translation that is drastically different from "The Waning." The original translation ("The Waning") was done with the author Johan Huizinga's participation and is superb. It is fluent, poetic and probably transposes most of the highly acclaimed aesthetic qualities that Huizinga's writing is known for. On the other hand, "The Autumn" (done by two Western Washington University professors and published in 1996) is flat, boring, and reads like a bad tranlation homework assignment.

I thought they were the same book when I ordered from Amazon -- there was no information to indicate otherwise. I only realized that "The Autumn of the Middle Ages" was a completely different version after I read the introduction. And a few pages into the main text, I simply couldn't continue. The translators might think they were doing their students a favor by bringing in a newer, fuller translation, but no amount of good intention can compensate for dullness. On the second try I correctly ordered the "The Waning of the Middle Ages" and instantly understand why it is a classic when I started reading it. So whoever made the same mistake as I did the first time, don't give up. Get "The Waning" instead and you will love it.
My problem with this book is the same that has been expressed by a couple other reviewers: to wit, does Huizinga really know what was going through the hearts and minds of the people in the particular era and region with which the book deals, as the author and his proselytes claim? My answer is, in a word,-No. No book can. History is an elusive subject under the best of circumstances.
Let me cut to the chase. Huizinga is really not so much interested in demarking the Middle Ages from the Renaissance. After one gets into the thick of things, it becomes quite obvious that what he's actually about is contrasting the Middle Ages (as he understands or imagines them) from his own historical milieu. I won't belabor the point: one citation will suffice. On page 235, Huizinga asseverates that, "There was no great truth of which the medieval mind was more certain than those words from the Corinthians, 'For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face.' They never forgot that everything would be absurd if it exhausted its meaning in its immediate function and form of manifestation, and that all things extend in an mportant way to the world beyond." How does he know? Did he conduct extensive interviews with illiterate serfs whose life expectancy was a fraction of ours and spent almost all their waking hours trying to put food in their bellies? - No, the worldview Huizinga describes above is one common to mystics and poets of all eras and climes. His very citation of the Corinthians subverts any notion that it was exclusive to the Netherlands in the Middle Ages.
Huizinga was essentially an artistic and poetic writer, and the insights one comes away with from his book are such as one might expect from one so gifted: textured and fascinating portraits of a time now lost. But they are just that, verbal pictures, calling to mind not so much Breughel or any of the other artists whose works are Plated in the middle of the book, but that of the Pre-Raphaelites.
This is an enchanting book and well worth the read. It's just that you may have to hang your critic's hat upon a medieval peg before sitting down to enjoy it. I trust you have one...a medieval peg that is.
As being Dutch, it pleases me that a Dutch historian brought forward such an impressive and longlasting work. For years my teacher in medieval history already pushed me to read this book and to take notice of this. This was later on once again confirmed by Renaissance Philosophy, Cultural History and historical theory professors and countless referenced in other books that keep on refering back to Huizinga (perhaps cos I studied as the same university as the one where Huizinga used to teach). As we'll known, it's the only Dutch book that is ever nominated for the Nobel prize for literature, so that should say pretty much about the way this book is written. It however takes you a while to get really into it, cos it reads not always equally easy..

Easy or not, it does stand out as a remarkable piece of historywriting as it does has an elloquence I have only seen a few times before (Gibbon comes in mind) The choice of words, the way sentences are constructed and the way they almost float through the pages is really amazing. Once again, this can be seen as benefitial, but also as a negative point, cos the writer tends to describe his thoughts with detours and lots of words. But as I asume this book is mainly still read by historians we shoulkd not complain cos we have read far more complicated stuff. I thought it was a delight....and would like to read more of the master...too bad for most that 95% of his work is never translated into another language....Thank god I can read Dutch.

Now something about the content...The book does indeed mainly seem to respond on Burckhardt (although never directly refering to it) and all others that had stated that a clear line can be drawn between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It really shows very nicely that this is a much more complex and difficult matter. It shows very we'll how in alot of ways the people of the Renaissance still strived for the same goals, ideals and percieved the same dreams. On the other side it also shows how deeply religious the life of the Medieval Europeans was and more important, why this was the they were confronted and reminded constantly to the importance of their faith in every possible way. In this I think it does take a very different stance than most other books I read about the Renaissance.

First because of the change of focus. Huizinga mainly studied the Netherlands and France, while others focus on mainly Italy, like Baron, Burckhardt and so on. Now, 90 years later it's still surprisingly difficult to find a good book about the Renaissance in the north of Europe, which indeed was very different and possible was founded on really different sources, thoughts and changes. Let is remind that in Italy the past was very much alive, even in the darkest moments of the Middle Ages...simply because what the romans left behind. Churches, monuments and so on. The Italians were never far away from their glorious past. In Northern Europe, there wasn't such a past, not to mention what barbarians had left behind. And yet, Hummanist scholarship and the changes in also fount their ways here. And eventually, it was here where the Renaissance struck the hardest by inflicting one of the greatest and most devastating changes in Christian/European history....the reformation. And..moreover..the gretest classical scholar and hummanist, was also a Northern Eurean..namely Erasmus.

Now..Huizinga is not focussing on this..and indeed does study that what can be called Bourgondy on it's own, the sources used are mainly from that erea and he doesn't really wave out alot to Italy or make reference to how it was elsewhere. What in that comes clearly visible is that it indeed was a time of deeply religious people, but moreover also a time of cultural grow, development and high conjuncture. In this we can only come to the conclusion that the Renaissance is not only something that happened in Italy, but simultaniously in different places over Europe, it was a time of cultural growth..............

After all the fallbacks Europe finally began to climb back on his feet......