Johan Huizinga Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Johan Huizinga (HOY-zihng-uh) was educated at Groningen and Leipzig Universities. He was a professor of history, first at Groningen and then at the University of Leiden from 1916 until 1942, when the school was closed by the Nazis. After the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, Huizinga spoke openly against the evils of National Socialism, and he was sent to the concentration camp located in St. Michielgestel. The intervention of Swedish diplomats resulted in his release, but he was sentenced to internal exile in the small eastern Dutch city of De Steeg, where he was under constant watch by the Gestapo. His health rapidly deteriorated, and he died on February 1, 1945, shortly before the Allies liberated his homeland.

Although he was a prolific writer, only a few of Huizinga’s works have been translated into English. In Erasmus, he explored moral and ethical aspects of the philosopher’s works. This book is still considered essential reading for scholars interested in Erasmus and the Northern Renaissance. In the Shadow of Tomorrow examines the cultural causes of dictatorship. Huizinga’s two major works are The Waning of the Middle Ages and Homo Ludens. Vastly different in character and content, the books have had a major influence upon modern scholarship.

The Waning of the Middle Ages, subtitled A Study of the Forms of Life, Thought, and Art in France and the Netherlands in the Dawn of the...

(The entire section is 440 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Clark, G. N. Preface to Erasmus of Rotterdam: With a Selection from the Letters of Erasmus, by Johan Huizinga. London: Phaidon Press, 1952. An excellent assessment of Huizinga’s heroism during the Nazi occupation of his homeland.

Huizinga, Johan. Introduction to Men and Ideas: History, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Translated by James S. Holmes and Hans van Marle. 1959. Reprint. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1984. An excellent biographical sketch of Huizinga is included in this introduction.

McConica, James K. “The Waning of the Middle Ages”: An Essay in Historiography. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1995. Includes bibliographical references.

Mansfield, Bruce. Man on His Own: Interpretations of Erasmus c. 1750-1920. Buffalo, N.Y.: University of Toronto Press, 1992. Huizinga’s contribution to scholarship on Erasmus is well described.

Schoeck, R. J. Erasmus of Europe: The Prince of Humanists, 1501-1536. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1993. Analyzes Huizinga’s contribution to Erasmus scholarship.