Sunday, July 24, 2016

DUTCH HISTORY | Johan and Jimmy Huizinga

Johan Huizinga was a founder of the field of cultural history. He
wrote critically about Fascism in the 1930s and was arrested in
1942 for speaking out against the Nazis. He died in prison in 1945.
When Wally van Hall, the "Prime Minister of the Dutch Resistance", went to New York to work with his brother Gijsbert (Gijs) van Hall, they spent time with Jimmy Huizinga and they had a great time, according to Aad van Hall (son of Wally van Hall).

I emailed Charles Leidschendam Boissevain to ask whether Jimmy Huizinga was the son of the great Dutch historian Johan Huizinga, and the answer came back overnight from him and Marleen van Hall Habraken (daughter of Gijs van Hall):

Yes! Johan Huizinga (1872-1945) had two sons Leonhard (1906-1980), author of a humorous book and some articles and Jacob "Jimmy" Herman (1908-1983), who was a good friend of Wally and Tilly van Hall and often stayed with them when they were living in Staten Island, New York. (Another son, Dirk, shows up on searches.) Marleen has pictures of Jimmy with Gijs, Wally and Emmie (Gijs' wife) in good spirits in their garden. Marleen reported (translation by Charles):
Jimmy wrote for the NRC (the NRC and Algemeen Handelsblad merged in 1970 into the present NRCHandelsblad). When Emmy went back to Holland he organized (is the story) that she could write about American literature, for quite a long time. There was also friendship with Jimmy's older brother Leonard Huizinga, his wife and daughter (my age, born in 1930). There is a picture of a summer house that our families had rented a in Noordwijk (a well-known village on the North Sea, 20 miles north of The Hague). I remember Leonard saying that children should be seen, not heard!
I am grateful to  Charles Leidschendam Boissevain, Marleen van Hall Habraken and Aad van Hall for the above information.

The following on Johan Huizinga is from various Internet sources.

Johan Huizinga

Johan was the son of Groningen Physiology Professor Dirk Huizinga and Jacoba Tonkens, who died two years after Johan was born. He was a student of Indo-Germanic languages graduating in 1895. He then studied comparative linguistics, learning Sanskrit in the process. He wrote his doctoral thesis on the role of the jester in Indian drama in 1897.

In 1902 he started writing about medieval and Renaissance history, writing a biography of Erasmus. He  became Professor of General and Dutch History at Groningen in 1905. In 1915, he was appointed Professor of General History at Leiden University, a post he held until 1942, when the Nazis removed him. He opposed Fascism in the 1930s and in 1942 spoke critically of the Nazi occupiers. From then until his death in 1945 he was locked up by the Nazi regime. His body lies in the graveyard of the Reformed Church at 6 Haarlemmerstraatweg in Oegstgeest.

Huizinga, The Play Element of Culture.
Huizinga founded a whole field of study, cultural research. His knowledge of languages led him to examine the role of playing, of games, in the formation of culture. He believed that games preceded culture, that animals instinctively know how to play and that playing leads to culture. Huizinga attempts to classify the words used for play


παιδιά — pertaining to children's games
ἄθυρμα — associated with the idea of the trifling, the nugatory
ἀγών — for matches and contests

krīdati — denoting the play of animals, children, adults
divyati — gambling, dicing, joking, jesting, ...
vilāsa — shining, sudden appearance, playing and pursuing an occupation
līlayati — light, frivolous insignificant sides of playing

wan — is the most important word covering children's games and much much more  cheng — denoting anything to do with contests; corresponds exactly to the Greek ago. sai — organized contest for a prize

      asobu — is a single, very definite word, for the play function

Semitic languages
la’ab (a root, cognate with la’at) — play, laughing, mocking
la’iba (Arabic) — playing in general, making mock of, teasing[13]
la’ab (Aramaic) — laughing and mocking
sahaq (Hebrew) — laughing and playing
ludus — from ludere, covers the whole field of play

Huizinga's study of culture stood him in good stead in the 1930s when he started to research and write critically about the culture of Fascism. He studied it as a game. He said:
You can deny almost everything: the beauty, the truth, the spirit of God. You can deny seriousness. But you can never deny the game.
In his Erasmus Lectures at Harvard, Loe de Jong quotes Huizinga as saying: "History, like good sherry, should be dry."

No comments:

Post a Comment