Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life

Jonathan Sperber

Language: English

Pages: 672

ISBN: 087140737X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“Absorbing, meticulously researched. . . . [Sperber] succeeds in the primary task of all biography, re-creating a man who leaps off the page.” ―Jonathan Freedland, New York Times Book Review

In this magisterial biography of Karl Marx, “likely to be definitive for many years to come” (John Gray, New York Review of Books), historian Jonathan Sperber creates a meticulously researched and multilayered portrait of both the man and the revolutionary times in which he lived. Based on unprecedented access to the recently opened archives of Marx’s and Engels’s complete writings, Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life provides a historical context for the personal story of one of the most influential and controversial political philosophers in Western history. By removing Marx from the ideological conflicts of the twentieth century that colored his legacy and placing him within “the society and intellectual currents of the nineteenth century” (Ian Kershaw), Sperber is able to present a full portrait of Marx as neither a soothsaying prophet of the modern world nor the author of its darkest atrocities. This major biography fundamentally reshapes our understanding of a towering historical figure. 34 illustrations

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Friedrich Wilhelm IV. He wanted a show trial, in which the entire 1848 Revolution would be blamed on a secret subversive conspiracy. As part of his counterrevolutionary policy, Friedrich Wilhelm had reluctantly issued a constitution for his realm, but his preparations for the trial were designed to evade his role as a constitutional monarch. Rather than coordinate actions with his council of ministers, as was constitutionally required, the monarch worked with fellow Evangelicals lacking any

it was because he agreed with two of Urquhart’s core positions: his Russophobia and his profound suspicions of Lord Palmerston. Marx had his own distinct reasons for endorsing these beliefs; examining them offers insights into his political orientation in a frustratingly reactionary era. The anti-Russian stance had been central to Marx’s position before and during the 1848 Revolution, and in this respect he was no different from most radicals in mid-nineteenth-century Europe. As Count

crisis-ridden decline, and revolutionary disappearance of capitalism. It was a lot to do, and Marx’s initial efforts at the end of the 1850s turned into a quarter-century-long theoretical, empirical, and mathematical odyssey. Unlike Homer’s wily hero, Marx never reached an Ithaca of political economy, but continued to wander around an intellectual Mediterranean, with a few stops, of shorter and longer duration, at islands of publication. While he was on his journey, both the economic landscape

VICTORIAN KNIGHT-ERRANT OF JUSTICE AND LIBERTY [OXFORD: BLACKWELL, 1920]) Friedrich Engels in 1857, the respectable and affluent businessman. (ARCHIV DER SOZIALEN DEMOKRATIE DER FRIEDRICH-EBERT-STIFTUNG) Adolf Cluss (1825–1905). Marx had a very high opinion of Cluss, his main adherent in the United States during the 1850s. Cluss later renounced communism, joined the Republican Party, and became, after the U.S. Civil War, a leading Washington, DC, architect. (MATTHEW BRADY, COURTESY

European newspapers devoted to serializing novels or dealing with literary and cultural matters) of the June 19, 21–22, and 26 issues of the New Rhineland News entertained its readers with a German translation of the trial of Louis XVI before the Convention: a trial ending, notoriously, in the guillotining of the monarch. Marx denounced the moderate democrats of the Frankfurt National Assembly for desiring a “republic of provincial philistines, far from all atrocities and crimes that soiled the

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