Cover image for Karl Marx : greatness and illusion
Title:
Karl Marx : greatness and illusion
Edition:
First Harvard University Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Massachusetts : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016.
ISBN:
9780674971615
Physical Description:
xvii, 750 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Language:
English
General Note:
"Original edition first published by Penguin Books Ltd, London."--Title page verso.
Contents:
Prologue: the making of an icon, 1883-1920 -- Fathers and sons: the ambiguities of becoming a Prussian -- The lawyer, the poet and the lover -- Berlin and the approaching twilight of the gods -- Rebuilding the polis: reason takes on the Christian state --The alliance of those who think and those who suffer: Paris, 1844 -- Exile in Brussels, 1845-8 -- The approach of revolution: the problem about Germany -- The mid-century revolutions -- London -- The critique of political economy -- Capital, social democracy and the International -- Back to the future.
Abstract:
As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his nineteenth-century world, before twentieth-century inventions transformed him into Communism's patriarch and fierce lawgiver. Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and new notions about God, human capacities, empires, and political systems--and, above all, the shape of the future. In the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, a Europe-wide argument began about the industrial transformation of England, the Revolution in France, and the hopes and fears generated by these occurrences. Would the coming age belong to those enthralled by the revolutionary events and ideas that had brought this world into being, or would its inheritors be those who feared and loathed it? Stedman Jones gives weight not only to Marx's views but to the views of those with whom he contended. He shows that Marx was as buffeted as anyone else living through a period that both confirmed and confounded his interpretations--and that ultimately left him with terrible intimations of failure. Karl Marx allows the reader to understand Marx's milieu and development, and makes sense of the devastating impact of new ways of seeing the world conjured up by Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Ricardo, Saint-Simon, and others. We come to understand how Marx transformed and adapted their philosophies into ideas that would have--through twists and turns inconceivable to him--an overwhelming impact across the globe in the twentieth century.-- $c Provided by publisher
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Summary

Summary

As much a portrait of his time as a biography of the man, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion returns the author of Das Kapital to his nineteenth-century world, before twentieth-century inventions transformed him into Communism's patriarch and fierce lawgiver. Gareth Stedman Jones depicts an era dominated by extraordinary challenges and new notions about God, human capacities, empires, and political systems--and, above all, the shape of the future.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, a Europe-wide argument began about the industrial transformation of England, the Revolution in France, and the hopes and fears generated by these occurrences. Would the coming age belong to those enthralled by the revolutionary events and ideas that had brought this world into being, or would its inheritors be those who feared and loathed it? Stedman Jones gives weight not only to Marx's views but to the views of those with whom he contended. He shows that Marx was as buffeted as anyone else living through a period that both confirmed and confounded his interpretations--and that ultimately left him with terrible intimations of failure.

Karl Marx allows the reader to understand Marx's milieu and development, and makes sense of the devastating impact of new ways of seeing the world conjured up by Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Ricardo, Saint-Simon, and others. We come to understand how Marx transformed and adapted their philosophies into ideas that would have--through twists and turns inconceivable to him--an overwhelming impact across the globe in the twentieth century.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jones, professor of the history of ideas at Queen Mary University of London, demystifies many elements of Karl Marx's life in this clear-eyed biography of the founding theorist of communism. In Jones's well-drawn portrait, Marx is an unappealing figure: self-absorbed, anti-Semitic (despite his Jewish ancestry), racist, and perpetually demanding money from relatives and friends to keep up bourgeois pretensions beyond his means. His redeeming features are his devotion to his wife, Jenny (though many believe he was the father of their housekeeper's son), and a commanding air. Jones concentrates on Marx the thinker, situating him in the context of 19th-century German idealist philosophy-though the author's exegesis of Marx's philosophy is not always clear, perhaps unavoidably given the obscurity of Marx's ruminations-and the factional infighting of those involved in contemporary radical politics. Jones's criticism of Marx's philosophy is sharp but balanced. He credits Marx with a telling journalistic exposé of capitalism's excesses, but highlights gaps and contradictions in Marx's economic theories. Jones also argues that Marx's class analysis sprang from philosophical obsessions-with statehood, citizenship, religion, and authentic being-and systematically misunderstood the true circumstances and ambitions of workers. Jones's sophisticated, scholarly prose is not always easy to read, but he does clear up some of the mythology surrounding this controversial icon and his thinking. Maps & illus. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


New York Review of Books Review

MISTER MONKEY, by Francine Prose. (Harper/HarperCollins, $26.99.) The dreadful revival of a musical based on a children's novel about an orphaned chimp is observed through various points of view in this fresh, Chekhovian novel. FUTURE SEX, by Emily Witt. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) A 30-something woman's smart, funny account of her contemporaries' exploration of desire in digital-era San Francisco. KARL MARX: Greatness and Illusion, by Gareth Stedman Jones. (Belknap/Harvard University, $35.) A British historian's gracefully written definitive biography focuses on the man, not the ideology. TRUEVINE. Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South, by Beth Macy. (Little, Brown, $28.) Ariveting account of two albino African-American brothers who were exhibited in a circus. THE RED CAR, by Marcy Dermansky. (Liveright, $24.95.) Surreal encounters and wry observations abound as an aspiring novelist drives cross-country in this tightly written novel. THE LESSER BOHEMIANS, by Eimear McBride. (Hogarth, $26.) McBride brings style and voice to the familiar tale of a girl who leaves a small town for the city and meets a damaged older man. THE MOTH SNOWSTORM: Nature and Joy, by Michael McCarthy. (New York Review, $24.95.) A British environmental journalist's impassioned plea that we celebrate the joy of nature. AMERICAN ULYSSES: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, by Ronald C. White. (Random House, $35.) Grant's virtues shine in White's thorough biography. COLLECTED POEMS, by Marie Ponsot. (Knopf, $35.) This compilation of the work of an underrated poet, now 95, includes new poems as well as old. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books.


Choice Review

This outstanding work shows with remarkable clarity how Karl Marx developed his thought in response to that of his contemporaries. This odyssey lasted a lifetime but began early on when Marx abandoned the Hegelianism of his student years and began to formulate a philosophy that linked the transformation of society with the fulfillment of human potential. He devoted his life to working out the economic and social aspects of this philosophy and to engaging sporadically, often unsuccessfully, in political activism. He may have been a revolutionary throughout his life, but as Jones (history of ideas, Queen Mary Univ. of London) demonstrates, Marx advocated achieving change in different ways at different times. Would capitalism destroy itself? Would it be toppled by proletarian revolution or undergo gradual reform? The author links these fluctuations in Marx's writings to the dramatic changes that took place in Europe in the 19th century. One of the book's great strengths is how well it portrays these changes. Another is how lucidly it covers Marx's struggles with those who were earlier his allies (particularly Mikhail Bakunin and Ferdinand Lassalle). Jones enriches readers' understanding of Marx. Summing Up: Essential. General collections; upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --Stephen Bailey, Knox College


Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. vii
Mapsp. ix
Acknowledgementsp. xv
Prologue: The Making of an Icon, 1883-1920p. 1
1 Fathers and Sons: The Ambiguities of Becoming a Prussianp. 7
2 The Lawyer, the Poet and the Loverp. 31
3 Berlin and the Approaching Twilight of the Godsp. 55
4 Rebuilding the Polis: Reason Takes On the Christian Statep. 84
5 The Alliance of Those Who Think and Those Who Suffer: Paris, 1844p. 122
6 Exile in Brussels, 1845-8p. 168
7 The Approach of Revolution: The Problem about Germanyp. 205
8 The Mid-Century Revolutionsp. 249
9 Londonp. 314
10 The Critique of Political Economyp. 375
11 Capital, Social Democracy and the Internationalp. 432
12 Back to the Futurep. 535
Epiloguep. 589
Notes and Referencesp. 597
Bibliographyp. 711
Indexp. 731