Medieval merriment

Danish. In a review of Kåre Johannessen’s book about leisure and amusement in the European Middle Ages, I argue that Johannessen’s fascination with play is an example to be emulated. Historians often explain premodern diversions in instrumental terms—as physical training or forms of subtle social control—but this reading of fun and games as always being “work in disguise” itself reveals our modern, capitalist, post-protestant work-bias, a bias we must set aside if we are to understand Medieval peoples on their own terms. Play can be its own purpose.

“Fritid er sit eget formål” (“Leisure is its own goal”), Weekendavisen (5 May 2023). Link.