First edition of Marx's longest polemical work

Marx, Karl. Herr Vogt.

London, A. Petsch & Co., 1860.

8vo. VI, (2), 191, (1) pp. Contemporary half cloth with marbled boards and ms. spine label; upper cover of the original printed wrappers bound within. In custom-made slip case.


First edition of Marx's longest polemical work, which he took the best part of a year away from the writing of "Das Kapital" to complete. Levelled at the polical writer and democrat of 1848, Karl Vogt (1817-95), the book is an answer to the slanders against himself, Engels and their supporters which had appeared in Vogt's 1859 pamphlet, "Mein Prozess gegen die Allgemeine Zeitung". A former member of the German pre-parliament, Vogt had become professor of geology in Geneva in 1852. When in June 1859 the "Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung" circulated the rumour that he was a paid agent of Napoleon III, Vogt suspected, not without justification, that Marx's circle was behind the report. Vogt sued the paper for libel, and the suit was tried at the Augsburg district court on 24 October 1859. No proof of the accusation was produced, and the charge was ultimately dismissed on technical grounds. Vogt exploited his moral victory by publishing the shorthand report of the court proceedings, bolstered with copious documents, so as to expose the communists as traitors and conspirators. Although Marx was already weary of the affair, he picked up the gauntlet: in this rebuttal of nearly two hundred pages, he answered "Vogt line for line and charge for charge [...] Marx spares neither wit nor invective in demolishing his opponent" (R. A. Archer, in the preface to his 1982 English translation). A fine example of Marx's talent for merciless satire as well as of his often prolix attention to detail, the book had little or no public effect: even when in 1871 the Paris Commune raided the government archives and produced proof that Vogt indeed had been in the pay of the Bonapartists, Marx's vindication escaped general notice. "An important historical document, and a classic example of irreconcilable political controversy" (cf. Sauer & Auvermann V, 2340).

A good, largely unbrowned, unstained copy preserving the original wrapper cover. Contemporary blue library stamp (Rehdiger-Stadtbibliothek in Breslau) on reverse of title page.

Marx-Engels Erstdrucke 26. Stammhammer I, 145, 22. Draper ST/M 51. Rubel 567.

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