KARL MARX-FRIEDRICH ENGELS: Selected Letters by Fritz--Ed. Raddatz


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The large correspondence between Karl Marx and his collaborator and friend Engels has been collected and in existence in German for some time. In English, the Selected Correspondence has been the main source for 30 years; but it concentrates on letters which amplify published work (either in terms of content or background) or analyze current political events, and studiously avoids the letters that show Marx at his worst--constantly beset by financial woes, borrowing money from Engels and anyone else he could, savaging friend and foe alike. These ""private"" letters have been the basis for much that is new in several recent biographies (e.g., McClellan's Karl Marx: His Life and Thought), and were extensively utilized by Raddatz in his own venomous Karl Marx: A Political Biography. In presenting this selection for the general reader, Raddatz has weighted it heavily toward the negative private side; the few letters he includes that are helpful for the reader of Marx's texts are already available in the Selected Correspondence, or in any number of anthologies of Marx's writings, in complete form (Raddatz's are often fragments). So the reader of this selection will now see the letter in which Marx calls his sometimes-friend Ferdinand Lassalle ""the Jewish nigger,"" but not (in the absence of letters to others besides Engels) the letters Marx wrote explaining the arguments of The Poverty of Philosophy or Capital. If Marx's sicknesses and money problems are of overriding importance, then Raddatz's selection makes sense (though the biographies already have that material); for help with Marx's writings, however, this selection is next to useless. The Collected Works, currently being published by International, will contain all the letters--allowing for the balanced judgment that Raddatz's selection does not permit.

Pub Date: Feb. 17th, 1982
Publisher: Little, Brown