Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels

Marx's General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels

Tristram Hunt

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 080509248X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Written with brio, warmth, and historical understanding, this is the best biography of one of the most attractive inhabitants of Victorian England, Marx's friend, partner, and political heir."―Eric Hobsbawm

Friedrich Engels is one of the most intriguing and contradictory figures of the nineteenth century. Born to a prosperous mercantile family, he spent his life enjoying the comfortable existence of a Victorian gentleman; yet he was at the same time the co-author of The Communist Manifesto, a ruthless political tactician, and the man who sacrificed his best years so that Karl Marx could have the freedom to write. Although his contributions are frequently overlooked, Engels's grasp of global capital provided an indispensable foundation for communist doctrine, and his account of the Industrial Revolution, The Condition of the Working Class in England, remains one of the most haunting and brutal indictments of capitalism's human cost.

Drawing on a wealth of letters and archives, acclaimed historian Tristram Hunt plumbs Engels's intellectual legacy and shows us how one of the great bon viveurs of Victorian Britain reconciled his exuberant personal life with his radical political philosophy. This epic story of devoted friendship, class compromise, ideological struggle, and family betrayal at last brings Engels out from the shadow of his famous friend and collaborator.












bash the same enemy on the same battlefield together with an old comrade like you," he promised Lessner.70 The General was once more ready for action. 8 THE GRAND LAMA OF THE REGENT'S PARK ROAD Engels did not immediately take to London. "One accustoms oneself only with difficulty to the gloomy atmosphere and the mostly melancholy people, to the seclusion, the class divisions in social affairs, to the life in closed rooms that the climate prescribes," he wrote. ''One has to tone down somewhat

Portugal, a~d Denmark, Engels was de facto in charge of coordinating the proletarian struggle 240 MARX'S GENERAL across the Continent. His passion for street politics, his organizing skills, and his ability to churn out barbed polemics made him the ideal choice to keep the European left's warring factions in order. In the words of the Austrian communist Victor Adler, Engels proved himself the "greatest tactician" of international socialism. He managed this messy, fragmented movement from his

sophistry of the 'heddicated' and 'sensitive' daughters of the bourgeoisie." In fact, purposeful, intelligent women who were neither pretty nor named Marx were frequently the subject of misogynistic abuse by Engels. There are numerous comments in Engels's letters showing his abhorrence for "affected, 'eddicated' Berlin ladies.'' 119 He particularly disliked middle-aged female intellectuals, so the secularist, feminist theosophist Annie Besant was "Mother Besant," the journalist and war

the audience to respond. Only members of the working class-the handmaidens of the communist future, but not yet allowed into Elberfeld's finer drinking establishmentswere absent from the discussion of their predicament. Engels thought the evening, which began with a reading of Shelley, an astounding success. "All Elberfeld and Barmen, from the financial aristocracy to epicerie, was represented, only the proletariat being excluded .... The ensuing discussion lasted until one o'clock. The subject

a diaspora of emigres, exiles, revolutionaries, and communists huddled together in the capital of the one country that had so spectacularly failed to rise to the '48 revolution. Far ·removed from the turmoil of the Continent, conservative mid-Victorian England was to be his home for the next forty years. MANCHESTER IN SHADES OF GRAY 6 MANCHESTER IN SHADES OF GRAY On Saturday I went out fox-hunting-seven hours in the saddle. That sort of thing always keeps me in a state of devilish excitement

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