Herzen’s book begins with the stories of his nurse about the troubles of the Herzen family in Moscow in 1812, occupied by the French; ends with European impressions of 1865-1868. Actually, memories in the exact sense of the word “Past and thoughts” can not be called: a consistent narrative is, I think, found only in the first five parts of eight; Further – a number of essays, journalistic articles, located, albeit in chronological order. Some chapters of the “The Past and the Doom” were originally printed as independent things. Herzen himself compared the “Past and Thoughts” with the house, which is constantly being completed: with “a set of extensions, superstructures, outbuildings.”
Part one – “The Children’s and the University” – describes primarily life in his father’s house – a smart hypochondriac, which seems to his son a typical 18th-century production.
The events of December 14, 1825 had an extraordinary impact on the imagination of the boy. In 1827, Herzen became acquainted with his distant relative N. Ogarev – the future poet, a very beloved Russian readers in the 1840s and 1860s; with him, Herzen will later conduct a Russian printing press in London. Both boys are very fond of Schiller; among other things, it quickly brings together this; boys look at their friendship as an alliance of political conspirators, and one evening on the Sparrow Hills, “embracing, swore, in the sight of all of Moscow, to sacrifice their lives for the elected struggle.” His radical political views Herzen continues to preach and grew up – a student of the physics and mathematics department of Moscow University.
Part Two – “Prison and exile”: Herzen, Ogarev and others from their university circle were arrested and exiled on the fabricated case of insulting His Majesty, Herzen in Vyatka serves in the office of the provincial government, in charge of the statistical department, in the relevant chapters of the ” doom “collected a whole collection of sad-anecdotal cases from the history of governance of the province.
Here is very expressively described AL Vitberg, with whom Herzen met in exile, and his talented and fantastic temple project in memory of 1812 on Vorobyovy Gory.
In 1838, Herzen was transferred to Vladimir.
Part three – “Vladimir-on-Klyazma” “- a romantic love story of Herzen and Natalia Alexandrovna Zakharina, the illegitimate daughter of Uncle Herzen, who was brought up by a half-mad and spiteful aunt. The relatives do not consent to their marriage, in 1838, Herzen comes to Moscow, where he is forbidden entry, takes the bride and crowned secretly.
In part four, Moscow, Petersburg, and Novgorod, “the Moscow intellectual atmosphere of the epoch is described. Hertzen and Ogarev, who returned from exile, became friends with the young Hegelians-the circle of Stankevich. In the chapter” Not Ours, “Herzen speaks primarily of bringing together Westernizers and Slavophiles in the 40-ies.
In 1846, for ideological reasons, the separation of Ogarev and Herzen from many occurs, primarily from Granovsky; after that, Herzen decides to leave Russia.
Part Five: Before and After the Revolution “) tells about the first years spent by Herzen in Europe: the first day of a Russian town finally found in Paris, where a lot of what he read in his homeland was written with such greed:” So, I’m really in Paris, not in a dream, but in reality: it’s the Vendome Column and rue de la Paix, “about the national liberation movement in Rome, about” Young Italy, “about the February Revolution of 1848 in France, about emigration in Paris – predominantly Polish, with its mystical messianic, Catholic pathos, about the June Recently, on his flight to Switzerland and so on.
Already in the fifth part, a consistent exposition of events is interrupted by independent essays and articles. In the interlude “Western arabesques” Herzen – obviously impressed by the regime of Napoleon III – speaks despairingly about the death of Western civilization, which is so dear to every Russian socialist or liberal. Europe is ruined by the philistinism that has taken possession of everything, with its cult of material prosperity: the soul is waning. Herzen sees the only way out in the idea of a social state.
In the chapters on Proudhon, Herzen also writes about the impressions of acquaintance, and about his book “On Justice in the Church and in the Revolution.” Herzen disagrees with Proudhon, who sacrifices the human personality to the “god of the inhuman” just state; with such models of the social state – among the ideologists of the revolution of 1891 like Ba-bet or the Russian sixties – Herzen argues constantly, bringing together such revolutionaries with Arakcheev.
Especially unacceptable to Herzen, Proudhon’s attitude toward the woman is the proprietary attitude of the French peasant; about such complex and painful things as treason and jealousy, Proudhon judges too primitively. According to Herzen’s tone, it is clear that this topic is close and painful for him.
The dramatic history of the Herzen family in the last years of Natalia Alexandrovna’s... life closes the fifth part: this part of the “The Past and the Doom” was published many years after the death of the persons described in it.
The June events of 1848 in Paris, and then the grave illness of the little daughter, fatal effect on the impressionable Natalia Alexandrovna, generally prone to bouts of depression. Her nerves are tense, and she, as can be understood from Herzen’s restrained narrative, enters into too close a relationship with Herwegh, touched by complaints about the loneliness of his misunderstood soul. Natalia Alexandrovna continues to love her husband, the current state of things torments her, and she, having realized finally the necessity of choice, explains with her husband; Herzen expresses her willingness to divorce, if her will be; But Natalia Alexandrovna remains with her husband and breaks with Herwege.
After the reconciliation, Herzen spent several happy months in Italy. In 1851, Herzen’s mother and little son Kolya perished in a shipwreck. Meanwhile, Herveg, not wanting to accept her defeat, persecutes the Herzen with complaints, threatens to kill them or commit suicide, and finally notifies the common acquaintances about what happened. Herzen intercedes friends; followed by unpleasant scenes with the recall of old money debts, with assault, publications in periodicals and so on. All this Natalia Alexandrovna can not bear and dies in 1852 after the next birth.
The fifth part ends with the section “Russian shadows” – essays on Russian emigrants, with whom Herzen then communicated a lot. NI Sazonov, Comrade Herzen at the University, wandered about Europe a lot and hopelessly, taking a great interest in political projects to the point that he did not put too much “literary” activity on Belinsky, for example, for Herzen this Sazonov was a type of the then Russian person, for nothing ruined the “abyss of forces,” not in demand by Russia. And here, remembering her peers, Herzen, in the face of an arrogant new generation – the “sixties” – “demands recognition and justice” for these people who “sacrificed everything that traditional life offered them, because of their beliefs. Such people can not just be handed over in the archive… “. A. V.
Part Six. After the death of her wife, Herzen moved to England: after Herveg made the family drama of Hertzen the property of rumors, Herzen needed that the arbitration court of European democracy deal with his relationship with Herweg and recognize the correctness of Herzen. But Herzen found calming not in such a “court”, but in his work: he “set about” the Past and Thoughts “and for the organization of the Russian printing house.”
The author writes about the beneficial solitude in his then life in London; it was loneliness among the crowd: England, proud of its “right of asylum”, was then filled with emigrants; most of them are told about the sixth part “).
From the leaders of the European socialist and national liberation movement, with whom Herzen was familiar, with some – close – to spies, criminals, begging benefits under the brand of political exiles. Convinced of the existence of a national character, Herzen devotes separate essays on the emigration of different nationalities. Herzen was especially curious to observe how national characters manifest themselves in a collision with each other.
Part 7 is devoted to the actual Russian emigration, the history of the free Russian printing house and the “Bell”. The author begins by describing an unexpected visit to him of a colonel, a man who appears to be ignorant and completely illiberal, but who considers it his duty to appear to Herzen as a boss: “I immediately felt like a general.” The first chapter. – “Apogee and perigee”: the tremendous popularity and influence of the “Bell” in Russia pass after the famous Moscow fires and in particular after Hertzen dared to support the Poles in print during their uprising in 1862.
Part eight does not have a title and a general theme; here are described the impressions that were made on the author in the late 60’s. different countries of Europe, and Europe still sees Herzen as the realm of the dead; not without reason the whole chapter – “From the other world” – is devoted to the old men, once successful and famous people. The only place in Europe where one can still live, seems to Herzen Switzerland.
Complete the “Past and Thoughts” “Old Letters.” In the foreword to them, Herzen contrasts letters – “to the book”: in the letters the past “does not crush all with force, as the pressures in the book.” The random content of letters, their easy ease, their everyday concerns bring us closer to the writer. ” So understood letters are similar to the entire book of Herzen’s memoirs, where he tried to save the “accidental” and “everyday” ones alongside judgments about European civilization. As it was said in XXIV ch. the fifth part, “what, in general, letters, how not notes about a short time?”.