Agreeing to write the biography of Karl Marx

Engels, Friedrich, political theorist (1820-1895). Autograph letter signed ("Frédéric Engels").

London, 11. III. 1873.

8vo. 1 p. on bifolium.

 400,000.00

Unpublished letter to the publisher Maurice Lachâtre, regarding the project of a biography of Karl Marx, to be written by Engels: "J’accepte votre proposition d'écrire l'histoire de Karl Marx qui sera en même temps celle du parti Communiste allemand d'avant 1850 & du parti socialiste d'après 1852. Envisagée sous ce point de vue, la biographie d'un homme deviendra l'histoire du parti dont Marx est sans contredit la plus haute personnification, & sera du plus grand intérêt pour la démocratie française. C'est cette considération qui m'engagera à me distraire de mes travaux pour me consacrer à cette œuvre qui demande des recherches & du temps pour être digne du sujet ; mais je ne puis consentir à m'occuper de ce travail que lorsque, dans une seconde lettre, vous m'aurez dit vos conditions que, sans doute par inadvertance, vous avez négligé de mentionner dans votre lettre du 14 février [...]" ("I accept your offer to write a biography of Karl Marx which would also be a history of the German Communist Party before 1850 and of the Socialist Party after 1852. Considered from this point of view, the biography of a man will become the history of the party whose undisputed highest personification is Marx, and it will be of the greatest interest for French democracy. It is this consideration that will move me to put aside my other work and dedicate myself to this oeuvre which demands research and time to be worthy of its subject. However, I cannot agree to commit myself to this effort until, in a second letter, you will have told me your conditions, which, undoubtedly by mistake, you have neglected to mention in your letter of February 14 [...]").

Between 1872 and 1875 Maurice Lâchatre published the first French translation of "Das Kapital" and thus was in close contact with Marx. In spite of Engels' apparent enthusiasm, the biography envisaged in this letter would never be realized. In a subsequent letter, dated 31 March 1873, Engels would go on to express his dissatisfaction with Lachâtre's ideas for the biography, presenting his own conditions: he would have written the book without remuneration but demanded a donation for the foundation of an international weekly organ for the First International, to be edited by Karl Marx.

Traces of original folds.