Past and Thoughts
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 (AI himself then – a small child); ends with European impressions of 1865-1868. Actually, memories in the exact sense of the word “Past and thoughts” can not be named: we find a consistent narrative, only in the first five parts of eight (before moving to London in 1852); Further – a number of essays, journalistic articles, located, albeit in chronological order. Some of the chapters of The Past and the Doom were originally printed as independent pieces (“Western Arabesque”, “Robert Owen”). Herzen himself compared the “Past and Thoughts” with the house, which is constantly being completed: with “a set of additions, superstructures,
Part one – “The Children’s and the University (1812 – 1834)” – describes primarily life in the house of his father – a smart hypochondriac who seems to his son (like his uncle, like his father’s youth friends – eg OA Zherebtsov) XVIII century.
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 – a future poet, a very beloved Russian readers in the 1840s and 1860s; with him, Herzen will later conduct a Russian printing press in
Part Two – “Prison and exile” (1834 – 1838): “Herzen, Ogaryov 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; corresponding chapters of the “The Past and the Doom” collected a whole collection of sad-anecdotic cases from the history of the administration of the province. Here
is very expressively described AL Vitberg, whom Herzen met in exile, and his talented and fantastic temple project in memory of 1812 on the Sparrow Hills. In
1838 Herzen was transferred to Vladimir.
Part three – “Vladimir-on-Klyazma” (1838 – 1839) “- a romantic love story of Herzen and Natalia Alexandrovna Zakharina, the illegitimate daughter of Uncle Herzen, raised from a half-mad and spiteful aunt. Relatives do not consent to their marriage, in 1838 Herzen comes to Moscow, where he is barred from entering, takes away his bride and is crowned secretly.
The fourth part, Moscow, Petersburg and Novgorod (1840 – 1847), describes the Moscow intellectual atmosphere of the epoch. The returnees from the exile, Herzen and Ogarev, approached the young Hegelians-the circle of Stankevich (primarily Belinsky and Bakunin) (about Khomyakov, Kireevsky, K. Aksakov, Chaadaev) Herzen speaks primarily of bringing together Westernizers and Slavophils in the 1940s (hereafter explanations why Slavophilism can not be confused with official nationalism and the arguments about the Russian community and socialism).
In 1846, for ideological reasons, the separation of Ogarev and Herzen from many, especially from Granovsky (personal quarrel between Granovsky and Herzen because one believed and the other did not believe in the immortality of the soul, is a very characteristic feature of the epoch) ; after that, Herzen decides to leave Russia.
The fifth part (“Paris-Italy-Paris (1847-1852): Before and After the Revolution”) tells of the first years spent by Herzen in Europe: the first day of a Russian city finally found in Paris, where a lot of things were created, that he read in his homeland with such greed: “So, I really am 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 the “Young Italy”, about the February revolution of 1848 in France (all this is described succinctly: Herzen refers the reader to his “Letters from France and Italy”), about emigration in Paris – mainly Polish, with her mystical messianic, Catholic pathos (among other things, about Mickiewicz), the June days, her 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. (This theme becomes the leitmotif of the “The Past and the Doom”: see, for example, chapter “John Stuart Mill and his book” On Liberty “in the sixth part.) 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 (Proudhon’s unexpected softness in personal communication), and 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 the Beef or the Russian sixties – Herzen argues constantly, bringing together such revolutionaries with Arakcheyev (see, for example, the chapter “Robert Owen” in part six).
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 (the bloody rout of the insurrection and the reign of Napoleon III), and then the grave illness of the little daughter fatally affected 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 (a famous German poet and socialist, the closest friend of Herzen’s then friend), 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. (Here Herzen in satirical colors paints the family life of Herwege, his wife Emma – the daughter of a banker, who was married because of her money, an enthusiastic German woman, obsessively patronizing the genius, in her opinion, her husband. Emma allegedly demanded that Herzen sacrifice his family happiness for the sake of the calm of Herveg.)
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 (apparently, from consumption).
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. However, Herzen found calming not in such a “court” (he was not there), but in his work: he “started on the” Past and Thoughts “and for the organization of the Russian printing house.”
The author writes about the beneficial solitude in his then London life (“wandering around London, on his stone clearings, not seeing sometimes a step forward from the continuous opal mist and pushing with some running shadows, I lived a lot”); it was loneliness among the crowd: England, proud of its “right of asylum”, was then filled with emigrants; about them, mostly, and tells part of the sixth (“England (1852 – 1864)”).
From the leaders of the European socialist and national liberation movement with whom Herzen was acquainted, with some – close (chapter “Mountain peaks” – about Mazzini, Ledru-Rollin, Kossuth, etc., the chapter “Camicia rossa” “Red shirt” about how England hosted Garibaldi – about the nationwide ecstasy and intrigues of the government, which did not want to quarrel with France) – to spies, criminals, begging benefits under the brand of political exiles (chapter “The London Liberty of the Fifties”). Convinced of the existence of a national character, Herzen devotes separate essays on the emigration of different nationalities (“Polish immigrants”, “Germans in emigration” (see, in particular, the description of Marx and the “marxids” – “sulfur gang”; Herzen considered them to be very dishonest, capable of destroying a political rival; Marx paid Herzen the same). Herzen was especially curious to observe how national characters manifest themselves in a clash with each other (see a humorous account of how the case of French duelists was dealt with in the English court – chapter “Two Processes”).
Part 7 is devoted to the actual Russian emigration (see, for example, separate essays on M. Bakunin and V. Pecherin), the history of the free Russian printing house and the Bells (1858 – 1862). 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 (1865 – 1868) has no name and a general theme (not without reason, its first chapter – “Without Communication”); 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 (see the chapter on Venice and the “prophets” – Daniels, exposing Imperial France, among other things, about P. Leroux); 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 “Past and thoughts” “Old letters” (texts of letters to Herzen from N. Polevoy, Belinsky, Granovsky, Chaadaev, Proudhon, Carlyle). 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?”.