Eleanor Marx

Ha, what is the point of a secret blog if one never writes in the secret blog? In the olden days of online diaries and livejournals, I did have readers. Just a few, but enough. Turns out, having readers, even if just your roommates and three random people on the internet, makes a difference. Today I’m going to post a few things from the drafts folder, maybe a few new things, try to get some momentum with this project.

What have I read recently?

A few weeks I finished Rachel Holmes’ Eleanor Marx: A Life. (No links!) I had been ‘spoiled’ by reading all the goodreads reviews and publicity for the book for the ‘plot twist.’  Eleanor Marx killed herself after the double whammy of finally coming to terms with what a shitstain her partner Edward Aveling was, and learning that her father, not Engels, was the biological father of the son of family maid/friend Helen Demuth. It was so joyous to read about her unconventional upbringing, how fun it must’ve been to be around Marx and Engels and Jenny von Westphalen and all their friends, spending time at the reading room at the British Museum. Holmes, too, does a superlative job of weaving in real considerations of Marx’s work, and later debates between socialists. A few of these types of biographies I’ve read over the past few years have really done poorly at dealing with politics/theory within the framework of lived experience (At the Existentialist Café comes to mind, as does Ana Siljak’s Angel of Vengeance on Vera Zasulich), and this book exceeds at it. Mary Gabriel’s Love and Capital, on Eleanor’s parents, also seems promising on this front although I haven’t read it. So I just plowed through this book, delighting in Eleanor’s hard work for the socialist and labor movements, her friendships, her love of literature and especially the theater, her refusal to wear a goddamn corset. I was bereft at the end, and almost immediately after I finished it searched online for the location of the grave of Freddy Demuth, her half-brother, who was so faithful and hardworking and sweet, despite the fact he got the raw end of so many deals. I would like to go to London and bring flowers to Freddie’s grave and spit on Aveling’s.


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