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Erasmus and the Age of Reformation Paperback – October 13, 2011

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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Dutch

About the Author

Huizinga, one of Europe's greatest historians, was educated at the universities of Groningen and Leipzig. After teaching history in Haarlem and lecturing in Indian literature at Amsterdam, he was professor of history first at Groningen (1905-15) and then at Leiden until 1942, when he was held as a hostage by the Nazis. He remained under open arrest until his death in 1945. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (November 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048641762X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486417622
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Thomas J. Burns VINE VOICE on January 3, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Of particular value to the reader is the preface of this work, penned in 1952 by the then Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, G.N. Clark. The brief preface introduces not only the work but the author, Johan Huizinga, perhaps as a halting effort at rehabilitation. Clark reminds the readers that Huizinga had suffered through two world wars and was imprisoned by the Nazis, and died in February, 1945, literally days before his beloved Holland was liberated: an apologia of sorts for a most controversial scholar.
Huizinga had shaken the European and American historical and religious establishments with the publication of his most famous work, "The Waning of the Middle Ages," in 1919. In that work Huizinga introduced a novel gestalt for interpreting the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, upsetting historians of his day who still clung to the traditional strictures of epochs, and Churchmen, notably Catholic, for his candor in debunking ecclesiastical mythology of that era. ["The Waning" was actually placed on the Index of Forbidden Books for a time.] Clark argues that the Erasmus text is a companion piece to "The Waning," a useful point to remember in assessing this biography.
For all the energy generated by their respective forces, neither the Renaissance nor the Reformation was particularly rich in seminal philosophical inquiry. In fact, the sixteenth century was in many respects quite conservative, with its veneration of Classical thought, Aristotelian scientific method, and religious interest in primary sources. Erasmus's lifespan, 1466-1536, was an age of application, where orthopraxis was making a run at orthodoxy. Erasmus has always enjoyed reputation as the consummate "Renaissance Man," literary giant, man of letters, humane reformer, diplomat.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Keating on November 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Johan Huizinga writes great history. I do not think many contemporary historians can match his prose. He does an excellent job of providing the reader a unique perspective of certain events, and the people involved with them as they unfold.

In this book, Huizinga writes about Erasmus, a man who is arguably one of the great thinkers of the 16th century. I did not know a lot about Erasmus before I read this book, but now feel like I have a much greater understanding about the man, his ideas, and the era in which he lived.

A word of warning about this book - it helps if you have a pretty good understanding of 16th century European history. If you are a novice, like me, you may struggle through some sections. It is well worth the effort though, in the end.

The best thing about Huizinga's book is that you get more than just the history of Erasmus. The author includes a lot of analysis and his perspective into Erasmus' life, which are fascinating.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is familiar with 16th century European history, and wants to learn more about Erasmus. If you are new to this era of history, or do not know much about Erasmus, I would consider reading a more general history before making your way through this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Johannes Platonicus on February 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Of all volumes of study which concern the learned scholar Desiderius Erasmus, it must be said, quite simply, that Johan Huizinga's work stands out among the greatest. Huizinga skillfully and colorfully weaves the many aspects of Erasmus' life together into one intimate portrait which places the man respectfully within the setting of his time. In this work, the reader will find that Huizinga always seems to surface the inmost sentiments of Erasmus, even amidst all the triumph, turmoil, and controversy which marked the age he lived in. From Erasmus' early years as an Augustinian canon, to his final days as an accomplished and conscientious scholar, the same underlining genius will be discovered by anyone who comes to grips with this classic work. Huizinga's, Erasmus and the Age of the Reformation, is a work worthy of praise, even eighty years after its first publication. Also, found here are several valuable letters of Erasmus', which display his dutiful correspondence with individuals like St Thomas More and Martin Luther. Any study of Desiderius Erasmus is not complete without Huizinga's timeless masterpiece at hand.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charles Poncet on July 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is not a new biography of Erasmus - of which there aren't many anyway - but a reprint of a fairly old book, written in the twenties and now published anew as an "Oxford reprint". So much for the frequently heard nonsense that "traditional" history books were boring, because Huizinga's concise travel through time and Erasmus' mind is a delightful read for anyone with an interest in Erasmus and his contemporaries. Most history buffs have read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Thomas More and this book is not in the same league. Yet anyone knowing the basics of Renaissance history, already familiar with Erasmus to some extent - by which I mean anyone remembering from college days what Moriae encomium means...- will be charmed by Huizinga's perceptive, light handed erudition. The book takes us through the various stages in Erasmus' wanderings (England, Paris, Rome, Basel, etc). Huizinga does not worship at the shrine and he can be fairly critical of Erasmus' sometimes difficult personality. I particularly enjoyed the chapters telling the story of his ambiguous attitude towards Martin Luther. Excerpts from Erasmus' letters - originally in Latin of course...- are translated at the end of the book. The two letters to Thomas More I enjoyed particularly.
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