Jenny Marx: Letters and Bography

27 May 2015 - 13:48

In the two-volume issue 'Jenny Marx- Die Briefe' and 'Jenny Marx - Die Biographie', Jenny von Westphalen, the wife of Marx, gets the honor she deserves, although Karl is not left out of the picture, of course.

Jenny was not only his wife and the mother of their seven children, but also the impresario and secretary of Marx and Engels. She also participated in their political activities.

The letter part contains 329 not very heavily annotated letters from and to Jenny, of which 100 have not been published before. The book itself is a monument to the letter culture of that time. "Thanks to the fact that their roads sometimes separated, there are also letters between the spouses (25 letters from Jenny to Karl and 12 from Karl to Jenny). These letters express a lot of love for the children and for each other.

The Marxen certainly did not do well. Four of their seven children died at a young or very young age, others were sickly. Financial need was no stranger to their household, which forced them to ask their friends and relatives for support. Perhaps that is why Jenny's letters to English, whose scholarship was often addressed, were distant and respectful.
In her letters to Karl, Jenny appears to be rather rude in her qualifications of people. An Esel, daske Schwein and a Schuft pass by.

The biography, written by Angelika Limmroth, closely follows the letter edition. Perhaps not entirely new - Jenny received biographical attention before - yet tastefully put together are the family anecdotes. Heinrich Heine came to the Marxen almost every day, read his poems and often had to cry, and Karl immediately referred him to Jenny as a consoler. But Heine could also be very energetic, for example when he jumped into bed with their screaming sick baby Jennychen. And it had an effect.

This edition is based on the Marx-Engels archive and the Jenny Longuet archive at the IISH.

IISH Collections | Bookblog | Angelika Limmroth and Rolf Hecker