karl Marx - A Biography by David McLellan, chapter name Preface to First Edition

Preface to First Edition

  Preface to First Edition

There has been no full-scale biography of Marx in English covering all aspects of his life since that of Mehring, first published in the original German in 1918. Two events have occurred since then which justify a fresh attempt: first, there is the publication of the unexpurgated Marx-Engels correspondence - together with numerous other letters relating to Marx's activities; second, several of Marx's crucial writings were published only in the 1930s and considerably alter the picture of his intellectual contribution.

Much writing about Marx has obviously suffered from the grinding of political axes. Clearly, it is impossible to pretend to be a completely 'neutral'

account of anyone's life - let alone Marx's. There is a vast amount of information and commentary on Marx and the very process of selection implies a certain standpoint. What I have tried to do is at least to write sine ira et studio and present the reader with a reasonably balanced picture.

I have therefore relied considerably on quotation and write from a sym-pathetically critical standpoint that avoids the extremes of hagiography and denigration.

The book is intended for the general reader; and I have attempted to cover fully the three main facets of Marx's life - personal, political and intellectual. In dealing with this last aspect I have had to include some rather difficult passages, particularly in the latter halves of chapters one and two and the beginning of chapter six. These passages are, however, necessary for an accurate appreciation of Marx as a thinker.

I am grateful to Dr R. D. McLellan, Dr Brian Harrison and Mr C.

N. Taylor who read parts of the manuscript and made many helpful suggestions; my particular thanks go to Dr G. M. Thomas whose inimitable sense of style has left its imprint on virtually every page of the book.

Remaining deficiencies are certainly not their fault.


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