Marx’s courting advice

When Paul Lafargue was living with the Marxes in 1866, he made his intentions regarding Laura quite plain so that the whole family knew. Marx was not so impressed, so he wrote:

If you wish to continue your relations with my daughter, you will have to give up your present manner of ‘courting.’ You know full well that no engagement has been entered into, that as yet everything is undecided. And even if she were formally betrothed to you, you should not forget that this is a matter of long duration. The practice of excessive intimacy is especially inappropriate since the two lovers will be living at the same place for a necessarily prolonged period of severe testing and purgatory. I have observed with alarm how your conduct has altered from one day to the next within the geological period of one single week. To my mind, true love expresses itself in reticence, modesty and even the shyness of the lover towards the object of his veneration, and certainly not in giving free rein to one’s passion and in premature demonstrations of familiarity. If you should urge your Creole temperament in your defence, it is my duty to interpose my sound reason between your temperament and my daughter. If in her presence you are incapable of loving in a manner in keeping with the London latitude, you will have to resign yourself to loving her from a distance. I am sure you will take the hint (MECW 42: 307-8).


4 thoughts on “Marx’s courting advice

    1. The collected works really would be quite droll without sort of material. In some ways, the correspondence is the most intriguing of the lot.

  1. Marx uses the term “Creole temperament”, no doubt referring to the fact that Lafargue had been born in Cuba of mixed ancestry. Since Marx would consider someone like me a “Creole”, I’m intrigued by what he meant by this term with regard to “temperament”?

    Did Marx himself have a “Teutonic” temperament because he was born in Germany (albeit as a Jew)?

    1. Marx was hardly one to talk about rational temperaments, given his love of all-night drinking sessions with Engels and his habit of laughing until tears streamed down his face, not to mention his temper and disabling anxiety over publishing deadlines. As for the Creole reference, he was actually more dismissive of the French for their gas-bagging and inability to achieve anything constructive. Jenny and Laura too felt the same way about their husbands after some time (Longuet and Lafargue). My sense is that in this letter Marx was using whatever he could to get Paul Lafargue to back off a little from Laura.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.