MARX and DAS KAPITAL: BOILS ON THE BUTT

“If that is Marxism, I am not a Marxist.”
—A quote from Marx himself, describing a period of french Marxism

And:

A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.
—Marx (Groucho)

I wrote awhile ago how I was never able to get through a page of Ayn Rand or Karl Marx‘s Das Kapital. I’m sure it would still be the same way, but I’ve been reading Marx’s Das Kapital, by Francis Wheen, which is enjoyable, and basically about Marx and his writing of that unfinished tome. Wheen describes Das Kapital as a work of 19th century art more than an economic treatise (where Marx reveals that with capitalism, supposedly nothing is as it seems). Quantum physicists would probably say the same thing, except perhaps for Kapital, which is required for their ongoing experiments on the mystery of the universe. Anyway, In paraphrasing work already uncovered by Professor S.S. Prawer, who in 1976 wrote a 450 page beak simply about about Marx’s literary references!, Wheen writes (74):

The first volume of Das Kapital [the only one Marx finished] yielded quotations from the Bible, Shakespeare, Goethe, Milton, Voltaire, Homer, Balzac, Dante, Schiller, Sophocles, Plato, Thucydides, Xenophon, Defoe, Cervantes, Dryden, Heine, Virgil, Juvenal, Horace, Thomas More and Samuel Butler—as well as allusions to horror tales about werewolves and vampires, German chap-books, English romantic novels, popular ballads, songs and jingles, melodrama and farce, myths and proverbs.

Who woulda thunk? Maybe I should have got past the first page.

Oh, and why not finish with this specificity? From Sween (pg 35):

“Even liver troubles and carbuncles couldn’t thwart [Marx from finishing Das Kapital]: he wrote the last few pages standing at his desk when an eruption of boils on the bottom made sitting too painful…

Engels’s experienced eye immediately spotted certain passages in the text where the carbuncles had left their mark, and Marx agreed they might have given the prose a rather livid hue. ‘At all events, I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day,’ he cursed. ‘What swine they are!’

The boils disappeared as soon as he completed the last page.”

It should be noted that Karl Marx’s devoted and long suffering wife was from a bourgeoisie family and Frederich Engels, of course, who funded Marx his whole life, was upper class (or so it’s called).

Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?
—Marx (Groucho)

We’re quite a species.

Pete

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