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The Autumn of the Middle Ages Paperback – November 24, 1997
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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
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This massive, gorgeously illustrated volume [. . .] offers a new translation of Huizinga’s classic supplemented by all sorts of useful and interesting material. It is in every way a superb production, beginning with Diane Webb’s translator’s note. If you know someone fascinated by the subject (especially someone you want to find a special gift for), you couldn’t go wrong with this. Of course, you might want to add it to your own library as well.― First Things
About the Author
Rodney J. Payton is a professor of liberal studies at Western Washington University. He is the author of A Modern Reader's Guide to Dante's Inferno.
Ulrich Mammitzsch (1935-1990) taught in the General Studies and Liberal Studies departments at Western Washington University and served as director of East Asian Studies.
- Publisher : University of Chicago Press; Paperback edition (November 24, 1997)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 490 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0226359948
- ISBN-13 : 978-0226359946
- Item Weight : 1.65 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.8 x 6.03 x 1.35 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #933,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #181 in Dutch History
- #1,531 in French History (Books)
- #23,774 in World History (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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I think Cantor does Huzinga a disservice, for I found "Autumn" to be eye opening both for its adept analysis and its innovative method. Huzingia is a fore runner of later developments in social history, both in France and the United States. He anticipates the field of "Cultural Studies" in his blend of source materials and thematic chapter arrangement.
It's hard not to think of Foucault as one meanders through three hundred pages of tossed off analysis if how people thought about allegories five hundred years ago in northern france. As Cantor says, Huzingia wrote this book with sources available in any "second tier library". Pretty much any criticism one might have of Foucault's scholarship one might apply here.
It is the speculative nature of Huzingia's scholarship that is both the greatest strength and weakness of "Autumn".
This book is heavy treading. The quotations are printed in their original language, with a footnote at the bottom. The translators have added end notes to explain the more obscure cultural references, but they are END notes, so of little use during the reading. This is not really a "read on the go" type of book. I found I had to focus on reading 20-30 pages a night for a couple of weeks.
This translation of the book seems solid. It includes a lot of text from original documents, many in French, or Latin, but includes English translations in the footnotes section. A few parts of the book were more difficult to work through than others, but in the end I felt like I had gained a new insight into European history. I particularly think that Huizinga's thoughts about the Christian church in this era leading to the reformation make for fascinating reading.
If you are interested in what life in the late middle ages may have been like then I highly recommend this book. Keep in mind that it is a historical exposition about this era, not a textbook treatment full of facts. Personally, it has kindled enough interest in this subject for me to warrant further study- hopefully it will do the same for you.
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.
Autumn provides an insight into the life and times of the middle ages, leading into the Renaissance. The content is interesting, but the presentation is very dense and hotch-potch. The chapters are dilineated around a theme, but within the chapters the ideas are not structurally tied in a tangible sequence.
Good book...but only for the serious reader with the fortitude to plow through it.