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Johan Huizinga

The Smell of Blood and Roses

When the world was half a thousand years younger all events had much sharper outlines than now. The distance between sadness and joy, between good and bad fortune, seemed to be much greater than for us; every experience had that degree of directness and absoluteness that joy and sadness still have in the mind of a child. Every event, every deed was defined in given and expressive forms and was in accord with the solemnity of a tight, invariable life style. The great events of human life--birth, marriage, death--by virtue of the sacraments, basked in the radiance of the divine mystery. But even the lesser events--a journey, labor, a visit--were accompanied by a multitude of blessings, ceremonies, sayings, and conventions.

--Johan Huizinga in "The Autumn of the Middle Ages," in a new translation by Rodney J. Payton and Ulrich Mammitzsch (University of Chicago Press, 467 pp.; $39.95).

Copyright (c) 1996 Christianity Today, Inc./BOOKS & CULTURE

May/June 1996, Vol. 2, No. 3, Page 4


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