Homo Ludens  

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"Now in myth and ritual the great instinctive forces of civilized life have their origin: law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primaeval soil of play."

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Homo Ludens, or "Man the Player," is a book written in 1938 by Dutch historian, cultural theorist and professor Johan Huizinga. It discusses the importance of the play element of culture and society. Huizinga makes it clear in the foreword of his book that he means play element of culture and not play element in culture. However, the uncredited English translator of the Beacon Books version modified the subtitle of the book to contradict Huizinga's stated intention. The version in print and widely available in English is a translation and synthesis of the original Dutch as well as the first English translation (done by Huizinga himself), because "a comparison of the two texts shows a number of discrepancies and a marked difference in style" (Translators Note, unnumbered page). Huizinga uses the term "Play Theory" within the book to define the conceptual space in which play occurs. Huizinga suggests that play is primary to and necessary (though not sufficient) condition of the generation of culture.


  • "Let my playing be my learning, and my learning be my playing."
  • "It is ancient wisdom, but it is also a little cheap, to call all human activity 'play'. Those who are willing to content themselves with a metaphysical conclusion of this kind should not read this book." (from the Forward, unnumbered page)
  • " The child is laughing: The Game is my wisdom and my love

The young is singing: The Love is my wisdom and my game

The old is silent: The Wisdom is my love and my game" (Lucian Blaga - 3 Faces) baga mia multe mia omule....


  • Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens. Beacon Press (June 1, 1971). ISBN-10: 0807046817

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