AUTUNNO DEL MEDIOEVO HUIZINGA PDF

We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed. The historians he discusses here Huizinga, Eileen Edna Power, Michael Postan, Carl Erdmann, Theodor Mommsen are not We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed. Cantor nevertheless has plenty of good things to say about Huizinga and the others. He writes that Huizinga had no successors, and the approach he adopted has found no significant imitators. In the short autobiography that he composed in the last decade of his life, he tells of writing Waning when he was told that his academic job was in jeopardy if he could not come up with a significant publishable book.

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We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed. The historians he discusses here Huizinga, Eileen Edna Power, Michael Postan, Carl Erdmann, Theodor Mommsen are not We, at the present day, can hardly understand the keenness with which a fur coat, a good fire on the hearth, a soft bed, a glass of wine, were formerly enjoyed.

Cantor nevertheless has plenty of good things to say about Huizinga and the others. He writes that Huizinga had no successors, and the approach he adopted has found no significant imitators. In the short autobiography that he composed in the last decade of his life, he tells of writing Waning when he was told that his academic job was in jeopardy if he could not come up with a significant publishable book.

Huizinga writes in his brief preface to the English edition, History has always been far more engrossed by problems of origins than by those of decline and fall… in medieval history we have been searching so diligently for the origins of modern culture, that at times it would seem as though what we call the Middle Ages had been little more than the prelude to the Renaissance. But in history, as in nature, birth and death are equally balanced.

The decay of overripe forms of civilization is as suggestive a spectacle as the growth of new ones. And it occasionally happens that a period in which one had, hitherto, been mainly looking for the coming to birth of new things, suddenly reveals itself as an epoch of fading and decay. The present work deals with the history of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries regarded as a period of termination … Such a view presented itself to the author whilst endeavoring to arrive at a genuine understanding of the art of the brothers Van Eyck and their contemporaries, that is to say, to grasp its meaning by seeing it in connection with the entire life of their times.

Now the common feature of the various manifestations of civilization of that epoch proved to be inherent rather in that which links them to the past than in the germs which they contain of the future.

The significance, not of the artists alone, but also of theologians, posts, chroniclers, princes, and statesmen, could be best appreciated by considering them, not as the harbingers of a coming culture, but as perfecting and concluding the old.

Now, viewed thus by the author, it would seem that this thesis is not amenable to simple demonstration by testimony of historical document. When men and women write of art, or create art, the writings and creations themselves are always thrusting towards the future, and a historian interested in their connection to the past must oftentimes do his analysis from the distant future, bringing his creative imagination into play to find the connections with a past that was not the concern of the subjects being studied.

Thus, quite as much as the book was, in its inception and writing, not the typical heavily researched academic study, it is a work of the historical imagination. To me, the second title is even more evocative. Wane: to dim, to decline; to gradually fade away. That word, waning, almost makes me catch by breath. To write of the waning of an era in European history, an era which lasted several centuries, or by some reckonings, a thousand years, and to render the subject of the narrative as the fading away of this immense span of time, of human endeavor, human art - of millions of lives slowly fading into an irrevocable past … well, I love the title.

Fourteen full page black and white illustrations, all works of art from the period, by Rogier van der Weyden, Jan Van Eyck, and others. The equally long index however is very good. I like perusing an index to see names that are extensively referenced in the narrative.

Also many references to Roman de la Rose. Following a group of these is in another spoiler the sometimes edited status that I submitted at that point in my read.

Some of the status comments appear elsewhere in the review. Interest waxed and waned elsewhere. Way more interesting than expected. Book now cluttered with underlining and notes. The Church in the Middle Ages tolerated many religious extravagances, provided they did not lead up to novelties of a revolutionary sort, in morals or in doctrine. Many examples. Long after the Middle Ages the collections of princes contained works of art mixed up indiscriminately with knick-knacks made of shells and of hair, wax statues of celebrated dwarfs … Time the destroyer has made it easy for us to separate pure art from all these geegaws and bizarre trappings … This separation … did not exist for the men of that time.

Generally I found these somewhat difficult, particularly XXI. Both in form and in idea it is a product of the waning Middle Ages. If certain historians of art have discovered Renaissance elements in it, it is because they have confounded, very wrongly, realism and Renaissance.

Now this scrupulous realism, this aspiration to render exactly all natural details, is the characteristic feature of the expiring Middle Ages. It is the same tendency which we encountered in all the fields of thought of the epoch, a sign of decline and not of rejuvenation. The triumph of the Renaissance was to consist in replacing this meticulous realism by breadth and simplicity. The Greek gods have large wings outside their ermine mantles… Saturn devouring his children, Midas awarding the prize, are simply ridiculous and devoid of all charm… we have come to the limit of the creative faculty of these artists.

Easily masters of their craft, so long as observation of reality is their guide, their mastery fails at once when imaginative creation of new motifs is called for.

Imagination, both literary and artistic, had been led into a blind alley by allegory. The contrast between suffering and joy, between adversity and happiness, appeared more striking Every event, every action, was still embodied in expressive and solemn forms, which raised them to the dignity of a ritual. For it was not merely the great facts of birth, marriage and death which, by the sacredness of the sacrament, were raised to the rank of mysteries; incidents of less importance, like a journey, a task, a visit, were equally attended by a thousand formalities: benedictions, ceremonies, formulae.

Calamities and indigence were more afflicting than at present; it was more difficult to guard against them, and to find solace. Illness and death presented a more striking contrast; the cold and darkness of winter were more real evils.

Honours and riches were relished with greater avidity and contrasted more vividly with surrounding misery. The diapason of life had not yet changed. Scholastic thought, with symbolism and strong formalism, the thoroughly dualistic conception of life and the world still dominated. The two poles of the mind continued to be chivalry and hierarchy. Profound pessimism spread a general gloom over life.

The gothic principle prevailed in art. But all these forms and modes were on the wane. A high and strong culture is declining, but at the same time and in the same sphere new things are being born. The tide is turning, the tone of life is about to change.

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Autunno del Medioevo

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