If Victor Hugo spent 1849 imagining a future Europe being born, in the following year Russian emigré Alexander Herzen (1812–1870) diagnosed what he called ‘the old, official Europe’ as suffering from a fatal illness. He was prepared to credit European history with ‘development, transformation, growth’, in the passage from the Middle Ages to the modern period; but in the post-1815 era he saw only ossified forms of cultural life. The theme of ‘dying Europe’, which implied the need for schemes of regeneration, can be found in earlier writers (e.g. Schmidt-Phiseldek, above) and would prove increasingly popular in the century and a half after Herzen wrote.
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