Eleanor Marx

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Jan 15 11:10:44 MST 2001

>She was a very great person. The paucity of knowledge of her
>on the left indicates something.

>From our archives:

Long before I became involved in political action of any sort, let alone a
Marxist, I was rather divided on the question of how "literary studies" (or
for that matter, "literature") fit into larger social patterns. But I
discover that Eleanor Marx, in fact the whole Marx family, seemed not to be
very bothered by such a tension. I just got my copy of Yvonne Kapp's
*Eleanor Marx* yesterday, and while so far I've only browsed here and there
in it, I'm already uncovering fascinating (and sometimes wrenching) details
from it:

"About a month after her return to England took to going to the British
Museum, where she worked for Dr. Furnivall in the interests of the
Philological, the Chaucer and the Shakespearean Societies."

--Eleanor Marx, Vol. 1, p. 187

Since Furnivall was certainly one of the "Founding Fathers" of "English
Literature" as an academic discipline, it would appear that Eleanor Marx is
also an ancestress (indirectly) of "Freshman Comp," that being, as Richard
Ohman pointed out a quarter of a century ago, the activity which won the
"English Profession" its place at the table in the consumption of workers'

I'm fiddling, but Kapp's biography, even on casual inspection, is a work of
tremendous power, and it is rather more than a pity that it is now out of
print. It apparently was remaindered originally, for the two hardbound
volumes I found through a book search had clearly never been "used,"
showing nary a smudge nor a bent page.

[Commenting on the question "I have no idea what happened to Kapp."]:

I am sorry to hear that; just from reading the skimpy information on the
jacket flap I have already become interested in Kapp herself. The jacket

"A writer and translator, Yvonne Kapp was born and has lived most of her
life in London. In the late twenties she was literary editor of *Vogue*
[!!!] working in Paris. In the thirties she worked full-time for
anti-fascist refugee committees in London. Subsequently she became, and
remained throughout the war, chief Research officer for the Amalgamated
Engineering Union; she was then employed in the field of industrial
research by the British Medical research Council. Her translations include
*Tales from the Calendar* by Bertolt Brecht, and *The Correspondence of
Frederick Engels and Paul and Laura Lafargue*."

So much of our own history lost!

--Carrol Cox

Louis Proyect
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