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Saturday, October 1, 2011


Most people have a preconceived notion of Karl Marx, the man who has also been referred to as "the father of socialism."  This biographical account entitled Love and Capital, Karl and Jenny Marx and The Birth of a Revolution, written by Mary Gabriel, gives us a new perspective on the man.  It is the account of his relationship with Jenny von Westphalen, the daughter of a Prussian baron, who later became his wife.  Gabriel gives the reader not only the political side to Marx, but also the human side, the loving husband and father to his two daughters, amidst the tragedies suffered by their family.

Gabriel brings to light the revolutionary ideals versus the pragmatic side of Marx.  The everyday life that Marx demonstrated versus the ideals he envisioned are seen throughout the many trials he and his wife suffered through.  At one point, his marriage was almost destroyed.  Though tested many times throughout their life together, their love kept their family strong through the tumultuous effects of historical circumstances. Gabriel includes several photographs spanning the lives of the two, including some portraits and intimate pictures of their family, as well as portraits of important figures in their life, such as Friedrich Engels.  A few maps are also included as well as a political timeline, and character reference listing important figures and their role in the lives of Marx.

From a literary perspective, it was interesting that Gabriel briefly mentions how authors like Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens became popular through the use of fiction writing to describe the political sphere in which they found themselves during the19th century as a result of the effect of the Industrial Revolution.

Despite the fall of Communism, and economic problems facing western civilization today, the work of Marx and Engels has a vital role of importance, and has influenced the way many people think about the concepts of government, money, work, and society.  Mary Gabriel contributes a concise biography, which is well organized, and accomplishes the theme, that despite one's perspective on socialism and Marx's theory, "Marx's ideas, which for most of their lives existed solely as a storm brewing inside his turbulent brain, and for which almost no one else acknowledged or even understood.  Yet as improbable as it might have seemed during those years of hunger, Marx did what he set out to do: he changed the world."


mmbear said...

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