The Marx-Engels Correspondence: The Personal Letters, 1844-1877

The Marx-Engels Correspondence: The Personal Letters, 1844-1877

The Marx-Engels Correspondence: The Personal Letters, 1844-1877

The Marx-Engels Correspondence: The Personal Letters, 1844-1877

Excerpt

The correspondence between Marx and Engels covers nearly four decades, from 1844 until shortly before Marx's death in 1883. It may confidently be described as one of the most tremendous historical and human documents of the nineteenth century, testimony to a friendship of rare intensity. The correspondence, which takes up nine volumes of 400 to 500 pages each in the collected edition of Marx's and Engels's Works (MEW), has been preserved almost in its entirety; Engels before his death merely destroyed a few excessively intimate letters from his friend. Thus the letters present not only a double portrait of the two philosophers and politicians but also an insight into the circumstances of their lives, the development of their political theory as well as their defeats; a picture of their hardships and of their glory.

The letters reveal the most extraordinary details -- such as Marx's incessant financial difficulties which gave rise to his almost peremptory demands to Engels -- who supported him throughout his life -- to send him money. Whether concerned with emigré gossip, love affairs or adulturous liaisons; whether dealing with deliberate political intrigues, designed to destroy Bakunin, isolate Lassalle or ridicule Liebknecht; whether obsessed with their own domestic troubles -- Engels, after all, though unmarried, for a time lived with two women, a circumstance which Marx's very bourgeois-minded wife strongly repudiated; or whether revealing Marx's quite gigantic appetite for reading and his capacity for work, even though most of the time plagued by sickness to the very limits of endurance: there exists no better biographical document of the two men than their letters.

Unfortunately, the letters have been largely disregarded because of their great bulk. In the present selection, based on the MEW, we . . .

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