"A swarthy chap from Trier": Engels’ first published portrait of Marx

[Engels, Friedrich / Bauer, Edgar]. Die frech bedräute, jedoch wunderbar befreite Bibel oder: der Triumph des Glaubens: das ist: schreckliche, jedoch wahrhafte und erkleckliche Historia von dem weiland Licentiaten Bruno Bauer; wie selbiger vom Teufel verführet, vom reinen Glauben abgefallen, Oberteufel geworden und endlich kräftiglich entsetzet ist; christliches Heldengedicht in vier Gesängen.

Neumünster bei Zürich, Joh. Fr. Heß, 1842.

12mo. 48 pp. Original printed wrappers. Housed in a black quarter morocco slipcase.


First edition of the parodic poem that includes Engels’ first published portrait of his future collaborator, Karl Marx. Extremely rare: no copy at auction, including German ones, since 1955; OCLC locates only four copies in libraries worldwide, all in Germany and Switzerland; no copy in the British Library, none in North America.

In spring 1839 Engels had read David Strauss's "Das Leben Jesu", and by winter 1840 had acquainted himself with Hegel's "Philosophy of History". By 1841 he was (like Karl Marx) a member of the Young Hegelian club known as "Die Freien". Although he had not yet formed a friendship with Marx, they were both breaking with the prevailing influence of Bruno Bauer and formulating their own positions.

Writing here in collaboration with Bauer’s younger brother Edgar, Engels achieves in this comic poem complex levels of satire and parody, both literary and philosophical. Engels' ironic use of parody, similar in form to Marx's use of Hegel as both the voice and the target of his satiric epigrams of 1837, was a popular mode among Young Hegelians at this time. As parody, it is itself an imitation of the parodistic style used by Bauer in 1841 to defend the radical Hegel in "Die Posaune des jüngsten Gerichts über Hegel, den Atheisten und Antichristen". Similarly David Strauss, in an earlier attack on Bauer, had used this form of ironic identification with the object of his criticism. The short title of Engels' satire, "Triumph des Glaubens", is reminiscent of a farce written in 1817 by Platen, entitled "Sieg der Gläubigen" (Victory of the Believers), which had satirized orthodox theology and revelation. Engels also employs Goethe's "Faust" to ambiguous effect, transforming the battle for Faust's soul between God and the devil into a battle between pietists and Left Hegelians for the soul of the philosopher Bauer.

Engels devotes eight lines of his poem to a caricature of Marx, describing him as "a swarthy chap from Trier" and emphasizing his furious energy. Shortly after this publication Engels escaped the inward-looking Young Hegelian circle by leaving Germany to work in his father's Manchester textile firm. However, he and Marx would later re-utilize this satiric form of parody in their first joint work, "Die heilige Familie" (The Holy Family), in 1845.

Wrappers very slightly soiled; a single wormhole through most of the work yet only occasionally touching a letter; a little very light foxing. An excellent copy of this very rare work in unrestored original condition.


Marx-Engels Erstdrucke p. 7. Not in Rubel. Cf. Margaret A. Rose, Reading the Young Marx and Engels: Poetry, Parody, and the Censor (1978).