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.

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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

abolition of all religious compulsion, of all hereditary aristocracy, etc. Who can have anything against that?" 44 Spurring Engels along this political journey was the poetry of "the genius, the prophet;' Percy Bysshe Shelley (whom he read together with Byron and Coleridge).45 No doubt the office-bound Engels was excited by the heroics of Shelley's rebellious, priapic lifestyle: the breach with his reactionary father, the doomed love affairs, and the devil-may-care romantic bravado. But he was

improved." He was already having trouble swallowing, but on the other hand, "I have found out several weak sides of my capricious appetite and take lait de poule [eggnog] with brandy, custards with stewed fruits, oysters up to nine a day etc."87 By the 21 July, however, his condition had become extremely grave. Sam Moore, Engels's old friend from his Manchester days, met Ludwig Freyberger off the train from Eastbourne and reported back to Tussy: "I am sorry to say that his report is anything but

CONTENTS List of Illustrations Preface xi I I. Siegfried in Zion 11 2. The Dragon's Seed 45 3. Manchester in Black and White 75 4. ·~ Little Patience and Some Terrorism'' 113 5. The Infinitely Rich '48 Harvest 148 6. Manchester in Shades of Gray 178 7. An End to Huckstering 211 8. The Grand Lama of the Regent's Park Road 239 9. Marx's Bulldog 274 10. First Fiddle at Last 317 Epilogue 352 Notes 369 Bibliography 401 Acknowledgments 411 Index 413 r I I

by the Russians in 1813 and, with it, a steady churn of reform, romanticism, and then reaction. The last of these had triumphed in the 1820s and 1830s as Friedrich Wilhelm marked the restoration of royal authority with a neoclassical building boom. Under architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the modern Bejin of bombastic public spaces and royal grandeur was carved out. His Doric Schauspielhaus (now the Konzerthaus Berlin), his ornately sculptured Schlossbriicke, the imperial Roman Neue Wache

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