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Friedrich Engels – Der Ursprung der Familie, 1884

Der Ursprung der Familie, des Privateigenthums und des Staats. Im Anschluss an Lewis H. Morgan's Forschungen. Hottingen-Zürich: Schweizerische Genossenschaftsbuchdruckerei, 1884.

8vo, 146, [1] pp., contemporary embossed red cloth with a few light marks, spine lettered in gilt and somewhat sunned, decorative endpapers with Munich bookseller’s ticket, old owner’s name on title-page, reading marks in pencil on half a dozen pages and a longer pencilled annotation on p. 77, one leaf loose (pp. 13/14), a very good copy in an attractive contemporary binding.

First edition. ‘After Marx’s death, in rummaging through Marx’s manuscripts, Engels came upon Marx’s précis of Ancient Society – a book by progressive US scholar Lewis Henry Morgan and published in London 1877. The précis was written between 1880-81 and contained Marx’s numerous remarks on Morgan as well as passages from other sources. After reading the précis, Engels set out to write a special treatise – which he saw as fulfilling Marx’s will. Working on the book, he used Marx’s précis, and some of Morgan’s factual material and conclusions. He also made use of many and diverse data gleaned in his own studies of the history of Greece, Rome, Old Ireland, and the Ancient Germans. It would, of course, become The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State – the first edition of which was published October 1884 in Hottingen-Zurich. Engels wrote it in just two months – beginning toward the end of March 1884 and completing it by the end of May. It focuses on early human history, following the disintegration of the primitive community and the emergence of a class society based on private property. Engels looks into the origin and essence of the state, and concludes it is bound to wither away leaving a classless society. … In 1894, Engels’s book appeared in Russian translation. It was the first of Engels’s works published legally in Russia. Lenin would later describe it as “one of the fundamental works of modern socialism”’ (from the Introduction to The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Marx/Engels Selected Works, Vol. 3).

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