KARL MARX FRANCIS WHEEN PDF

This book created such a stir when it came out that I feel I hardly have to summarize it. Still, here it is: the warts-and-all, lively and highly readable biography of the man whose self-proclaimed heirs shaped half the 20th century. Wheen's technique will be familiar to readers of his column in this paper: respect for the facts, determination to stick up for what one believes in, an instinctive and, I must add, wholly appropriate distrust of those with a right-wing agenda; and a certain matiness of tone at which some readers might raise an eyebrow, as it is, at times, more matey than his Guardian column. For example: Marx may have said that philosophers have interpreted the world, but "the point is to change it", yet Wheen remarks: "Nevertheless, Marx and Engels proceeded to spend the winter of theorising like billy-o as they composed their German Ideology. You will also find rum coves, boobies, squiffy letters written after lunch and scallywags. Well, this is his way.

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This book created such a stir when it came out that I feel I hardly have to summarize it. Still, here it is: the warts-and-all, lively and highly readable biography of the man whose self-proclaimed heirs shaped half the 20th century. Wheen's technique will be familiar to readers of his column in this paper: respect for the facts, determination to stick up for what one believes in, an instinctive and, I must add, wholly appropriate distrust of those with a right-wing agenda; and a certain matiness of tone at which some readers might raise an eyebrow, as it is, at times, more matey than his Guardian column.

For example: Marx may have said that philosophers have interpreted the world, but "the point is to change it", yet Wheen remarks: "Nevertheless, Marx and Engels proceeded to spend the winter of theorising like billy-o as they composed their German Ideology.

You will also find rum coves, boobies, squiffy letters written after lunch and scallywags. Well, this is his way. He more or less directly signposts his influences when discussing Henry Hyndman, the Eton and Trinity-educated socialist who made Marx's last years more of a trial than they already were. Personally, I think Comrade Wheen has done a fine job, and if it takes the shade of PGW to help him on his way then so be it.

The key phrase in the first paragraph is "highly readable", for to resurrect Marx for the average reader is to do humanity a favour in both the long and short runs. There were one or two reviewers who despaired that Wheen reduced so much of Marx's political and philosophical thought to what amounts to not much more than the literary equivalent of a thumbs-up; but a this is preferable to a thumbs-down, and b it will send readers off to the original texts.

Not to mention to Martin Rowson's remarkable cartoon book, Scenes from the Lives of the Great Socialists , in which the pun-laden escapades of Marx and Engels will be seen to have more relation to reality than previously supposed. Wheen's Marx is a loveable old rogue Engels emerges as a long-suffering hero ; he may have been hypocritical in the kind of minor details that intellectual pipsqueaks like Paul Johnson make so much of; he may have been a hector and an intellectual bully - there was a reason why there were only 11 mourners at his funeral - but he was also charming, funny, and a devoted father.

It is this last that I find such an affecting detail, and one that is lovingly treated by Wheen; as for the old man's death, I found myself wiping away a tear, and I dare say I wasn't the only reader to do that. Topics Books. History books Politics books Karl Marx reviews. Reuse this content. Most popular.

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Francis Wheen

Marx is not in the least bit a sympathetic human being - not at least in my reading of Wheen's detailed biography, but one can't help but feel the pain of his life, particularly the children he lost Superb life of the thinker who, for better or worse, molded the 20th century. Marx once proclaimed, famously, that he was not a Marxist. If pressed, British journalist Wheen would probably claim

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A loveable old rogue

A major biography of the man who, more than any other, made the twentieth century. Written by an author of great repute. The history of the 20th century is Marx's legacy. Not since Jesus Christ has an obscure pauper inspired such global devotion — or been so calamitously misinterpreted. The end of the century is a good moment to strip away the mythology and try to rediscover Marx the man.

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Biographical information

They say, and it does seem to be true, that we get the prime ministers and presidents we deserve. Now, it looks as if each generation is going to get the Karl Marx it deserves. The biographical obsession, personality-bound cod analysis, has got everywhere. We prefer to see the portrait of the man, rather than think about his thoughts. The retreat in search of lively personal origins as a form of explanation is less demanding than the perpetual examination of ideas and their development.

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