Alexander Ivanovich Herzen – Russian writer, publicist, philosopher, revolutionary, the founder of domestic political emigration – was illegitimate child of a wealthy Moscow landowner I. Yakovlev. Born on April 6 (March 25, art.), 1812, the boy was given the name Herzen, invented by his father. He grew up in his father’s house and was educated, typical of the noble families of that time. The ability to read French Enlighteners and Encyclopaedists from the home library influenced the formation of his worldview. As a teenager, Alexander met Nikolai Ogarev, whose friendship he carried through the years. The uprising of the Decembrists of 1825 was a landmark event for the biography of Herzen. His impressions were so strong that Herzen and Ogaryov were sworn to serve freedom for life.
In 1829, Herzen became a student at the Moscow University (Physics and Mathematics Department). He and his faithful comrade Ogarev are becoming active participants in a circle of freedom-loving, anti-government youth. In 1834, Herzen was among the arrested of his participants and was exiled to Perm. Later he was sent to Vyatka, where he served in the governor’s office. When the royal heir, the future Alexander II, came to the city, Herzen participated in a local exhibition and gave explanations to a high-ranking person. Thanks to this, he was transferred to Vladimir, where he served as an adviser to the government and married the Moscow bride. Despite staying in exile, Herzen recalled these days as the happiest in life.
In 1836, he began to publish, act as a publicist, taking the pseudonym Iskander. In early 1840, Herzen was allowed to return to Moscow, and in the spring he changed his place of residence to St. Petersburg. Father insisted that the son settle into the office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but after in a letter to him, Hertzen impartially responded to the police, he was again exiled in July 1841, this time to Novgorod.
A year later, in 1842, Herzen returned to the capital. At that time, the main thrust of social thought was the ideological dispute between the Slavophiles and Westerners. Herzen is not simply, actively involved in it, shares the position of the second – thanks to erudition, talent to think, to lead polemics, he turns into one of the key figures of Russian social life. In the years 1842-1843. he publishes a series of articles “Dilettantism in Science,” in 1844-1845. – “Letters on the study of nature”, which calls for an end to the...
The move to Europe (France) in 1847 after the death of his father marked the beginning of a new period in the biography of Herzen. He happened to be an eyewitness of the defeat of the revolutions of 1848-1849. and under the influence of frustration in the revolutionary potential of Western countries, the philosopher creates a “theory of Russian socialism” about the dying of old Europe, and lays the foundations for populism. Literary embodiment of the ideas of that time were the books From the Other Bank (1847-1850), On the Development of Revolutionary Ideas in Russia (1850).
In 1850, Alexander Ivanovich and his family settled in Nice, where he interacted closely with representatives of the European emigration and the Italian national liberation movement. In 1851, the Russian government appropriated Herzen’s status as an eternal exile, depriving them of all rights for disobeying the demand to return to their homeland. Having lost her husband, in 1852 Herzen went to live in London and a year later he founded the “Free Russian Printing House”, designed to print the banned literature in Russia. In 1855, Herzen became the publisher of the almanac “Polar Star”, and in 1857, after moving to London N. Ogareva, begins to produce the first Russian revolutionary newspaper “Bell”. From its pages, the ruthless criticism fell on the Russian government, calls were heard for radical reforms, for example, the liberation of the peasantry, publicity in court, elimination of censorship, etc. This publication played a huge role in the formation of Russian social thought, the world outlook of young revolutionaries. “Bell” lasted 10 years.
In 1868, Herzen finished writing the autobiographical novel “The Past and Thoughts”, begun as early as 1852. He is considered not only the pinnacle of his work as an artist of the word, but also one of the best examples of Russian memoirs. At the end of her life, Herzen came to the conclusion that violence and terror are unacceptable methods of struggle. The last years of his life are connected with different cities: Geneva, Lausanne, Brussels, Florence. Herzen died on January 21, 1870, from pneumonia in Paris. He was buried in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, then his ashes were reburied in Nice.