Love and Capital: A Family Affair

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Among the new books marking the return of the “Critique of Political Economy” referred to in this blog title is Love and Capital by Mary Gabriel. Her book puts real flesh and blood to the common cardboard cut out of Marx the negligent father who left his family to poverty and sickness as he roamed the barricades, pubs, and libraries of  Europe from the 1848 uprisings to the 1870s Paris Commune.  Instead Gabriel shows us the Marx story as outlined above , but as a family affair! Karl and Jenny Marx’s marriage was at it’s best when roaming

1860-marx-engels_2059317iEurope one step ahead of the state police and two steps ahead of the censor. Their home life was a vibrant hive of politics, literature, language learning and hosting a continual parade of revolutionaries and intellectuals. An extremely protective father and loving husband he kindled the  tremendous passions and devotion the family had to each other’s ideals.  Frequent poverty, illness, and infant death were as common in the Marx homes as in those of the working classes. Not likely though that many decided to do as Dad and daughter did one tough cold ill winter to keep the mind alive at least– “let’s learn Danish together,” he said. Frederic Engels in Gabriel’s telling is not the economic benefactor of the family– he is very much a member of the family!  The long time family housekeeper is also very much a member of the family. The scandal sheet version comes out when Gabriel concludes that the boy “Freddy” was not son of Engels and the housekeeper, but of Karl and the housekeeper!

English born daughter Eleanor “Tussy” Marx , his youngest was Daddy’s favorite. Her life is also subject of a recent detailed biography by Rachel Holmes.  Eleanor stayed the revolutionary course of her dad by labor and feminist activism, intellectual endeavors– she translated the first English edition of Flaubert, and was a leading player in the late century Bohemian crowd around the British Museum.

 

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