Oswald Spengler, Twenty-five Years After

The Future in Retrospect

Courtesy Reuters

DER UNTERGANG DES ABENDLANDES: UMRISSE EINER MORPHOLOGIE DER WELTGESCHICHTE. BY OSWALD SPENGLER. Munich: Beck, v. I, "Gestalt und Wirklichkeit," 1918; v. II, "Welthistorische Perspektiven," 1922.

OSWALD SPENGLER, the greatest of the modern prophets of doom, completed "The Decline of the West" in the spring of 1917. In the preface to the first edition he did not conceal his feeling that he was giving the world one of its most challenging and monumental books. He believed that he had written not just a philosophy of our time, but "the philosophy of our time." The First World War was in its third year when this unknown mathematics teacher in Munich wearily laid down his pen. He had a right to be weary. He had written more than 500,000 words. All that he wrote later was evidently the product of a man who already had poured his immense energies into his one main work.

1917 and 1942. No two other years in the history of the world so justify comparison. Today once more, as then, the world's destiny is in the balance; once again the march of German legions is shaking the earth to its foundations. But we look at Spengler today not alone because the times have reawakened our curiosity in the audacious predictions he then made. In 1942, "The Decline of the West" is more than an antiquated best seller. The similarity of atmosphere between this destiny-laden year and the year in which he wrote has brought about a current renaissance of Spenglerism among writers on politics and philosophy and, what is even more important, among the youth.

Once again the young people in our colleges and universities are turning to Spengler in search of light on the questions which everyone asks but no one seems able to answer. Spengler's book, when it was first published, made a deep impression on German youth. Its main conceptions and prophecies spread like wildfire, burning their way into the souls of that war-torn generation. Now once again academic youth, this time in

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