Johan Huizinga

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Huizinga, Johan


Born Dec. 7, 1872, in Groningen; died Feb. 1, 1945, near Arnhem. Dutch cultural historian.

Huizinga was a professor at the universities of Groningen (1905–15) and Leiden (1915–40). During the fascist German occupation of the Netherlands, he was imprisoned in a concentration camp.

Huizinga won world renown for his works dealing with the history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Western Europe: Erasmus (1924) and The Waning of the Middle Ages (1919). In the latter work, he uses an analysis of the Franco-Flemish culture of the Burgundian state in the 15th century to describe the essential features of medieval culture at the period when its decline had just begun.

Huizinga emphasized what was unique and concrete in the historical process and was skeptical about the possibility of formulating universal historical laws. However, in his chief work on the philosophy of culture, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture (1938), he proceeded from the category of “play” as the basic characteristic of every culture. The study of the role of ritual and other cultural phenomena was important for the development of semiotic and systemic approaches; however, Huizinga presented the play principle as if its role in different cultures was always identical. As a thinker with a liberal and humanistic orientation, Huizinga wrote regretfully about the decline of bourgeois Western civilization, suggesting a return to the old values. His works have been repeatedly republished and translated into many European languages.


Verzamelde werken, vols. 1–9, Haarlem, 1948–53.


Averintsev, S. S. “Kul’turologiia I. Kheizingi.” Voprosy filosofii, 1969, no. 3.
Kaegi, W. Das historische Werk Johan Huizingas. Leiden, 1947.
Köster, K. Johan Huizinga, 1872–1945, vol. 1, parts 1–2. Oberursel, 1947.
Vermeulen, E. E. G. Fruin en Huizinga over de wetenschap der geschiedenis. Arnhem, 1956.
Johan Huizinga, 1872–1972. (catalog). Groningen, 1973.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga surmised, as early as 1938, that playing was necessary for the generation of culture, of art.
Ja o grande historiador holandes Johan Huizinga entendia que o jogo, que em muitas versoes inclui a competicao entre individuos ou entre equipes e a assistencia de um publico, e um elemento cultural que permeia todas as sociedades humanas desde as mais primitivas(2004: 7).
She also cites some major, standard historians of the Dutch, such as Johan Huizinga and Jonathan Israel.
To fully understand how the play element stimulates community and democracy, it is necessary to explore the theories of Johan Huizinga and his definition of play.
There is perhaps no finer example of the philosophical or conceptual history advocated by Mortimer than the work of the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga. Huizinga (1872-1945) was one of the towering historians of the twentieth century, but maybe what is more important, he was one of its most important historical thinkers.
It also serves to theoretically contextualize the analyses to follow in which scholars like Mikhail Bakhtin, Johan Huizinga, and Gregory Bateson are among those whose visions shape Israel's thought.
Along the way, he might refer to Marsilius of Padua, Johan Huizinga, Thomas Muenzer, Karl Lowith, and Manuel Garcia Pelayo.
(Gibt es Verwandlung?) do historiador holandes Johan Huizinga na secao Textos e Documentos Historiograficos.