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The Waning of the Middle Ages [Paperback]

Johan Huizinga
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 May 2013
Brilliant study of art, life and thought in France and the Netherlands during the 14th and 15th centuries explores the period's splendor and simplicity, courtesy and cruelty, its idyllic vision of life, despair and mysticism, religious, artistic, and practical life, and much more. An invaluable reference for anyone interested in medieval life. 14 illustrations.


Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc. (31 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486404439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486404431
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,282,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Johan Huizinga is one of the most imporatant historians of the twentieth century. He was Professor of General History at the University of Leyden. While he is best-known for this book, his biography, ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM, is unsurpassed. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic view of aesthetics and life 28 Aug 2011
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I first read this book 25 years ago in college. At the time, it was one of those book I just wanted to get through for a grade, but there were details of it I remembered, such as the common practice of sllicing apples into thirds to represent the Trinity.

Well, picking up this book to re-read while living in Europe turned out to be a far greater pleasure than I imagined. Huizinga offers an elegant portrait of an entire era, the Late Middle Ages, in both visual and intellectual detail. You learn about codes of honor, the different ways in which life was perceived, and the practices of love. It is beautifully written and vivid.

There are limitation to the approach, of course. It is not about economics or living standards. It does not function as a survey, and hence the reader must have solid knowledge of medieval history before starting the book. You will have to get these elsewhere. But if you come to this book with the right expectations, it is fascinating and wonderful from cover to cover.

Warmly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The F.Hopman translation reviewed 9 Feb 2011
By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
It's clear from the other reviews that a lot of the reviewers (presumably historians) have read both translations, and their comments make me want to read the new one. This is because I read the original Hopman translation and enjoyed it immensely. Please don't let the other reviews put you off, as it is still a beautifully written, complex and subtle book which will, without pain, teach you a great deal about the way the Middle Ages evolved into the early modern world which, in England, we associate with the Tudors.

Huizinga's book is about France and the Low Countries, but is is a book about ideas, social behaviour and all the stuff of "soft" history, and at this period the differences between England and the Contitent were less obvious than they later became. (I use the word "England" with precision - Scotland, Ireland and Wales were at this period very different).

Clearly the new translation has virtues the earlier one lacked. But Hopman's translation is well worth reading, and if that is the one that falls into your hands, give it a fair trial.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome back to an old friend 4 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an old friend from back in the day. I'd given my original copy away! Luckily this very good copy landed on my doorstep in plenty of time for reading the relevant chapter recommended by a course I'm on. This is a book which is easy to read and understand, but is meaty with information. Translations are included close to the page in question. There's a good Bibliography, and clear index. Welcome back old friend..this copy stays on my shelves!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating 7 Feb 2009
By WOOD
A very interesting book for anyone who aims to go beyond the barrier of "modern" history writing and the thought of Medieval Time as a "Dark Age". It is time to shed the missconception of our ancesters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
58 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superlative 5 Feb 2004
By Caraculiambro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Though this book is absolutely excellent (though the style takes a little getting used to), it shouldn't be the first book you read on the Middle Ages.

I say that not so much because the book is difficult, as because it's elliptical. The book has a lot of discussion about themes prevalent in the art and literature of the later Middle Ages, but it's not a "history": it doesn't tell you what happened.

For example, to make a point about fastidious medieval protocol, Huizinga relates an anecdote about the battle of Crecy. But he never explains what the battle was, who fought in it, or why it was important. He assumes you already know that stuff, so don't come to this book looking for a more straightforward history. This is more a discussion of the major themes and movements of the age, divided by chapter.

Another thing you should know: the lion's share of the discussion in the book has to do with the low countries.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic view of aesthetics and life 22 Jun 2001
By Robert J. Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first read this book 25 years ago in college. At the time, it was one of those book I just wanted to get through for a grade, but there were details of it I remembered, such as the common practice of sllicing apples into thirds to represent the Trinity.
Well, picking up this book to re-read while living in Europe turned out to be a far greater pleasure than I imagined. Huizinga offers an elegant portrait of an entire era, the Late Middle Ages, in both visual and intellectual detail. You learn about codes of honor, the different ways in which life was perceived, and the practices of love. It is beautifully written and vivid.
There are limitation to the approach, of course. It is not about economics or living standards. It does not function as a survey, and hence the reader must have solid knowledge of medieval history before starting the book. You will have to get these elsewhere. But if you come to this book with the right expectations, it is fascinating and wonderful from cover to cover.
Warmly recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chivalry is not dead, it may never have lived! 7 Oct 2003
By Riccardo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
How many of us can clearly remember specific ideas from the books we read as undergrads in the mad rush of our youth? But in reflective moments I find myself turning over one more time the chief idea discussed in the abridged paperback translation of this work: that Chivalry was an "aesthetical ideal", praised and alluded to everywhere in the European art and politics of the Middle Ages, yet practiced by few. I've learned to see much of the stock language of art, politics, and diplomacy of our own time through the model of the "aesthetical ideal": democracy, peace, and equality fit the concept. A good idea is worth the price of a book...
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic 17 Dec 2006
By Andres C. Salama - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Written originally in dutch in 1919 (the first english translation appeared in 1924), this is a classic of medieval historiography. Huizinga's main thesis goes something like this: the black death of the late 1340s, which decimated European population, brought as a result a morbid sensibility to European culture. It meant also a return to religion, as the cult and veneration of saints grew enormously during the last half of the 13th century and throughout the 14th century. This would bring in excesses of its own, and would lead the way for the reformation of the 15th century to counter it. But the book is more than just the lay out of this thesis, as Huizinga show us the daily life and thoughts of the late middle ages (based mostly from french and flemish sources) in a very vivid way.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book...it MUST be put into print again!! 16 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book deserves more than 5 stars. I can't believe it out of print! It must be because of the new and rather sterile translation: the Autumn of the Middle Ages. The new translation leaves me cold. The Waning of the Middle Ages made a very deep impression on me in college. It is one of the few books that I have read completely through twice (not simply read portions of later)...I will refer back to it for the rest of my life. It is a splended fusion of literature and historical vision. Everyone I know who studied any medieval history was asigned this work and loves it still. Everyone remembers the openning phrase, "When the world was half a thousand years younger..." Today's students should be able to obtain this marvelous gem.
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