Marx-Engels Correspondence 1871

Marx to Sigfrid Meyer

January 21, 1871


Source: Marx Engels On Literature and Art, Progress Publishers, 1976;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

The Russian Language

I don’t know whether I told you that at the beginning of 1870 I began to study Russian, which I now read fairly fluently. This came about because Flerovsky’s very important work on The Condition of the Working Class (especially the peasants) in Russia, had been sent to me from Petersburg and because I also wanted to familiarise myself with the excellent economic works of Chernyshevsky (who was as a reward sentenced to the Siberian mines where he has been serving time for the past seven years). The result was worth the effort that a man of my age must make to master a language differing so greatly from the classical, Germanic, and Romance language groups. The intellectual movement now taking place in Russia testifies to the fact that fermentation is going on deep below the surface. Minds are always connected by invisible threads with the body of the people.



The noble poet Freiligrath is at the moment staying here at his daughters’. He does not date to show himself to me. The 60,000 talers which the German Philistine gave him must be worked off by composing Tyrtaian songs like: “Germania, You Proud Woman,” etc.