The Dutch historian Johan Huizinga, who lived from 1872 to 1945, is considered to be one of the greatest historians of the 20th century. His work has been translated into many languages. More than 80 years after its first appearance, his most famous book, The Waning of the Middle Ages, is still read the world over and regularly reprinted. Huizinga is now mainly read and admired by historians, although his book, Homo ludens, is also appreciated by anthropologists. In the 1930s, he was even more well-known but in a different capacity: not as a cultural historian but as a cultural critic. His book, In the Shadows of Tomorrow, which appeared in 1935, was soon translated into eight languages. It was as influential as Ortega y Gasset's, The Rebellion of the Masses, and made him ‘the most famous man of the Netherlands’. This paper will describe Johan Huizinga's transition from cultural historian to cultural critic and discuss how far his cultural criticism can be seen as an example of ‘the spirit of the 1930's’.
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