Friedrich Engels Criticism - Essay

The Westminster Review (essay date 1892)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

The Westminster Review (essay date 1892)

SOURCE: Review of The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, in The Westminster Review, Vol. CXXXVII, June, 1892, pp. 702-03.

[In the following excerpt, the anonymous critic reviews the 1892 reprint of Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (originally published in 1845) and finds fault with the book's attack on the capitalist system.]

We have received the two new volumes of the “Social Science Series,” The Condition of the Working Classes in England in 1844,1 by Frederick Engels, and Commercial Crises of the Nineteenth...

(The entire section is 631 words.)

The Spectator (essay date 1892)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “A Communistic Prophet,” in The Spectator, No. 3,349, Sept. 3, 1892, pp. 326-27.

[In the following essay, the anonymous critic comments on the 1892 reprinting of The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, discussing specifically the preface Engels wrote for the new edition. The critic suggests that the book was worth republishing “if only to show what foolish things a clever man may say.”]

There are men who lack the courage of their convictions. Of these is not Mr. Frederick Engels. He has the courage both of his convictions and his predictions. In 1845 he wrote a book, from the communistic point of view, on the condition of the...

(The entire section is 1682 words.)

The Economic Journal (essay date 1895)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

The Economic Journal (essay date 1895)

SOURCE: The Economic Journal, Vol. V, No. 19, September, 1895, pp. 490-92.

[In this obituary, the anonymous author discusses the London death of Engels and offers a brief summary of Engels' life, works, and collaboration with Karl Marx.]

It will be news to many who have long associated Engels with Marx and Marx with Engels, that Friedrich Engels was living quietly in London till the 5th of August, 1895, when the fatal cancer ended his career. He had been long our guest, and we had treated him well; we had allowed him to carry out his work unmolested, in the ways he liked best.


(The entire section is 1124 words.)

V. I. Lenin (essay date 1895)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Frederick Engels,” in Labour Monthly, Vol. 17, No. 8, August, 1935, pp. 498-505.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1895 and reprinted in 1935, Lenin offers a brief overview of Engels' life and works and praises Engels' contribution to socialism.]

Oh, what a lamp of reason ceased to burn,
What a heart had ceased to throb?(1)

In London, on August 5, 1895, Frederick Engels breathed his last. After his friend Karl Marx (who died in 1883), Engels was the most remarkable scientist and teacher of the modern proletariat in the whole civilised world. Ever since fate brought Karl Marx and Frederick Engels together, the lifework of both...

(The entire section is 3426 words.)

Dirk J. Struik (essay date 1945)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Friedrich Engels and Science,” in New Masses, Vol. LVII, No. 10, December 4, 1945, pp. 10, 12-13.

[In the following essay, Struik assesses and praises Engels' contributions and achievements in the philosophy of science. Struik's assessment focuses on Engels' Dialectics of Nature which, the critic explains, examines the “fundamental dialectical laws which govern the universe as well as the inquiring mind.”]

Outstanding among the thinkers of past generations are a few whose thought was so penetrating, whose vision so clear, that study of their works gives guidance to those who try to understand the principles underlying contemporary science....

(The entire section is 2477 words.)

Bernhard J. Stern (essay date 1948)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels on the Family,” in Science and Society: A Centenary of Marxism, Vol. XII, No. 1, Winter, 1948, pp. 42-64.

[In the following essay, Stern examines Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property and the Statein order to elucidate Engels' view of the family and the effects of capitalism on family development. Stern discusses the strengths and weaknesses of Engels' arguments.]


The major work in Marxian literature on the family, Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State,1 appeared thirty-six years after the Communist Manifesto. There are several anticipations of its points of...

(The entire section is 9895 words.)

Donald Clark Hodges (essay date 1965)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels' Contribution to Marxism,” in The Socialist Register 1965, edited by Ralph Miliband and John Saville, Monthly Review Press, 1965, pp. 297-310.

[In the following essay, Hodges investigates the nature and extent of Engels' contribution to Marxist social theory and concludes, among other things, that there are significant differences between the dialectical methods of Marx and Engels and that Engels “did a disservice” to Marx's “analytical and critical method” when he attempted to make Marx's methodology “universal in scope.”]

Now that knowledge of Marxism has become a respected path to academic advancement, scholars have increasingly...

(The entire section is 6269 words.)

I. Kuzminov (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Frederick Engels and the Economic Theory of Socialism,” in International Affairs, Nov., 1970, pp. 26-32.

[In the following essay, Kuzminov maintains that Engels and Marx formulated a theory of the basic principles pertaining to the political economy of communism. Kuzminov studies these principles as developed by Engels and comments on the experience of the Soviet Union in the application of Marx's and Engels' principles.]

The theory of scientific socialism is rightly considered the product of two brilliant minds—Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Paul Lafargue, noted figure in the international working-class movement and talented populariser of the ideas of...

(The entire section is 5087 words.)

B. M. Kedrov (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Science and Nature,” in Soviet Studies in Philosophy, Vol. X, No. 1, Summer, 1971, pp. 3-26.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1970, Kedrov explores Engels' aims and achievements in the writing of Dialectics of Nature, arguing that Engels strove to use materialist dialectics to “synthesize the findings of natural science in his day.”]

Philosophers and natural scientists are both familiar with the fact that, nearly a century ago, Engels undertook to synthesize the findings of natural science in his day from the standpoint of materialist dialectics. But few know the price Engels paid, how many times the work approached completion...

(The entire section is 8169 words.)

A. P. Kazhdan (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Origins of Christianity,” in Soviet Studies in Philosophy, Vol. X, No. 1, Summer, 1971, pp. 81-102.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1970, Kazhdan references several writings by Engels on the origins of Christianity in order to explore the parallel Engels saw between the nineteenth-century development of the socialist movement and the founding of Christianity.]

Engels is the author of three articles devoted to the origins of Christianity. In 1882 the magazine Der Sozialdemokrat carried his “Bruno Bauer and Early Christianity,” conceived of as an evaluation of Bauer's contribution to the treatment of this complex problem. The...

(The entire section is 7071 words.)

W. O. Henderson (essay date 1976)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels and Das Kapital,” in his The Life of Friedrich Engels, Vol. II, Frank Cass, 1976, pp. 391-413.

[In the following essay, Henderson examines Engels' contribution to Marx's Das Kapital, demonstrating that Engels was involved throughout all stages of the book's production and that he provided input on economics and helped to publicize the work.]

In whatever literary projects they were engaged Marx and Engels were accustomed to work in close co-operation. Engels gave his friend every possible assistance when he was writing his major work on the capitalist system.1 Marx often consulted Engels on theoretical and practical problems....

(The entire section is 10110 words.)

George G. Brenkert (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Marx, Engels, and the Relativity of Morals,” in Studies in Soviet Thought, Vol. 17, No. 3, October, 1977, pp. 201-224.

[In the following essay, Brenkert assesses apparently contradictory statements Marx and Engels make concerning the relativity of morality. Brenkert contends that it is possible to determine the position of Marx and Engels on this issue but that their views are somewhat complicated. Brenkert concludes that Marx and Engels are not “normative relativists” but may be characterized as “descriptive relativists, though of a modified sort,” as well as “meta-ethical relativists.”]

1. It is often claimed that Marx and Engels are moral...

(The entire section is 9890 words.)

Howard L. Parsons (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels' Development from Christianity to Communism,” in Revolutionary World: An International Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 23/25, 1977, pp. 180-90.

[In the following essay, Parsons analyzes the progress of Engels' beliefs from his Christian upbringing to his espousal of communism. In particular, Parsons discusses the influence on Engels of Christian Pietism and Hegelianism.]

The life of Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) spanned the greater part of the 19th century—a period which in many parts of the western world saw both the ripening and the rottening of capitalism and its ideological ally, Christianity. From childhood through adulthood Engels was so situated...

(The entire section is 4901 words.)

Martin Berger (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels' Military Studies and Their Revolutionary Purposes,” in his Engels, Armies, and Revolution, Archon Books, 1977, pp. 39-63.

[In the following essay, Berger surveys Engels' military writings, arguing that Engels' interest in this area was driven by his desire to help the revolutionary cause. Berger assesses Engels' military writings as “good, but rather conventional.”]

Since Engels' early career reveals no sign of an obsession with war and armies, how are we to explain the diligent study of military science which he began in the 1850s? The answer lies in Engels' willingness to do whatever he could to help the revolutionary cause. Military studies...

(The entire section is 12422 words.)

Richard J. Wiltgen (essay date 1979)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels' Origin of the Family as a Contribution to Marx's Social Economy,” in Review of Social Economy, Vol. XXXVII, No. 3, December, 1979, pp. 345-369.

[In the following essay, Wiltgen provides an interpretation of Engels' Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, and maintains that through such anthropological studies, Engels succeeded in offering “a detailed exposition of the socioeconomic development of pre-capitalist societies.”]

Marx's method was largely historical. As a consequence, a proper understanding of Marx's social economy requires a good grasp of what he termed “the materialist conception of history.” Marx's...

(The entire section is 9822 words.)

Gareth Stedman Jones (essay date 1982)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels and the History of Marxism,” in The History of Marxism, Vol. 1: Marxism in Marx's Day, edited by Eric J. Hobsbawm, Indiana University Press, 1982, pp. 290-326.

[In the following essay, Jones offers an assessment of Engels' contribution to the theory of historical materialism, noting that typically critics only acknowledge that Engels played a marginal role in the development of this Marxist theory. Jones concludes that Engels contributed significantly to the formulation of the historical materialist theory and that clearly several important Marxist propositions are first developed in Engels' early writings rather than in Marx's.]

Since his death in...

(The entire section is 15479 words.)

Gregory Claeys (essay date 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Political Ideas of the Young Engels, 1842-1845: Owenism, Chartism, and the Question of Violent Revolution in the Transition from ‘Utopian’ to ‘Scientific’ Socialism,” in History of Political Thought, Vol. VI, No. 3, Winter, 1985, pp. 455-78.

[In the following essay, Claeys attempts to explain Engels' theory of revolution by analyzing the political statements Engels made during his first stay in England from 1842 through 1844. Claeys traces Engels' development from the non-violent Owenite brand of socialism to Marxism, arguing that despite this transition, Engels still held that the violence of class conflict could be lessened through the employment of Owenite-type...

(The entire section is 11025 words.)

Richard F. Hamilton (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels on Germany's Classes,” in his The Bourgeois Epoch, University of North Carolina Press, 1991, pp. 122-70.

[In the following essay, Hamilton examines Engels' writings on the German classes, comparing his various analyses on this topic and studying the logic and consistency of his conclusions. Hamilton finds that Engels' research and writings on the different classes in Germany contain flawed logic and numerous inconsistencies.]

This chapter will compare four analyses by Engels of developments in Germany, along with the more familiar account of The Communist Manifesto. As will be seen, several positions appear in these less-known historical...

(The entire section is 23080 words.)

J. D. Hunley (essay date 1991)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Engels' Alleged Reformism,” in his The Life and Thought of Friedrich Engels, Yale University Press, 1991, pp. 96-111.

[In the following essay, Hunley studies the idea that Engels favored reform over revolution as the road to the rule of the proletariat and argues that Engels, like Marx, never rejected the necessity of revolution but that both Marx and Engels, after 1848, began to “redefine the conditions under which it [revolution] would take place.”]

It has become common for scholars to consider Engels as the first revisionist of Marx's ideas. Most of them have meant this in the generic sense that he changed some of Marx's conceptions, but a few of...

(The entire section is 7287 words.)

John Lea (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Poverty, Crime and Politics: Engels and the Crime Question,” in The Condition of Britain: Essays on Frederick Engels, edited by John Lea and Geoff Pilling, Pluto Press, 1996, pp. 84-109.

[In the following essay, Lea summarizes Engels' treatment of crime in The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 and discusses the relevance of the essay to modern issues.]

The present period is an appropriate one in which to reread Engels's The Condition of the Working Class in England. The demolition of the welfare state under conditions of high global unemployment and dramatic increases in poverty would have been thought impossible 20 years ago....

(The entire section is 10937 words.)

Michael Levin (essay date 1998)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Friedrich Engels: Workers and Revolution,” in his The Condition of England Question, Macmillan Press, 1998, pp. 137-56.

[In the following essay, Levin analyzes Engels' study of the English proletariat and the effects of factory work on this class. Levin focuses on the factors that affected the development of Engels' thought on socialism and class conflict, maintaining that despite Engels' later emphasis on the proletariat's infiltration of parliament, Engels still saw revolution as necessary.]


Engels regarded the segmentation of the city as merely the product of the segmentation of the social classes. ‘It is not...

(The entire section is 9191 words.)