Hello readers, I haven’t written anything in a long time. After a period of not feeling particularly motivated to write, I’m glad to be publishing here again. To the over 2,300 (!) subscribers I now have on here, thanks for staying.
As many of you know, I sometimes like to write history pieces as part of my Past As Prologue series. My last one was featured on Substack Reads this year which was a pleasant surprise. So I thought that would be a good place to pick things up again.
This piece is about how the once mighty empire of Austria-Hungary suddenly ended and the writers who struggled to make sense of their lost world thereafter. Despite being almost a century old, I think their perspectives still resonate today which is why I find myself so drawn to the literature of this period. Thanks for reading.
When it comes to history writing, one of the most recognizable frames is the story of the “rise and fall.” Although broad and often misused, it is undeniably a trope that deeply interests the public imagination. So much so that nowadays one doesn’t need to look far to find anxieties over our own alleged fall. Discussions on “decline” and even “collapse” have become more commonplace online. 1 More generally, across all published literature, mentions of doom and gloom have reached new heights, irrespective of political leanings. 2