Autograph letter signed.
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Unpublished, early letter in French, Marx's only known missive to the Belgian journalist and politician Lucien-Léopold Jottrand (1804-77): "J’ai l’honneur de vous faire parvenir l’original de mon petit discours inséré au Northern Star. Je me fais un Plaisir d’y ajouter un exemplaire de mon livre contre M. Proudhon [...]".
Like Engels, Jottrand was a member of the Fraternal Democrats of Brussels. On 27 September the society had adopted the decision to found a Democratic Association, and Engels was elected to its Organising Committee. Engels had made Jottrand aware that he might have to leave Brussels and thus be unable to serve on the Committee, but that he would suggest Marx to replace him. Indeed, on the 30th, Engels officially wrote to Jottrand that circumstances would require his absence: "I therefore request you to call on a German democrat resident in Brussels to participate in the work of the committee charged with organising a universal democratic society. I would take the liberty of proposing to you one of the German democrats in Brussels whom the meeting, had he been able to attend it, would have nominated for the office which, in his absence, it honoured me by conferring upon myself. I mean Mr Marx, who, I am firmly convinced, has the best claim to represent German democracy on the committee. Hence it would not be Mr Marx who would be replacing me there, but rather I who, at the meeting, replaced Mr Marx [...]" (MEGA III.2, 110). On the same day, he advised Marx of the content of his letter to Jottrand: "
I had in fact already agreed with Jottrand that I would advise him in writing of my departure and propose you for the committee. Jottrand is also away and will be back in a fortnight. If, as I believe, nothing comes of the whole affair, it will be Heilberg’s proposal that falls through; if something does come of it, then it will be we who have brought the thing about. Either way we have succeeded in getting you and, after you, myself, recognised as representatives of the German democrats in Brussels, besides the whole plot having been brought to a dreadfully ignominious end.
Karl Marx wrote several pieces for Friedrich Engels’s "Northern Star" in 1847, so it is not clear which manuscript (“l’original”), he enclosed to Gottrand. But the book he enclosed was the recently published was The Poverty of Philosophy, a pivotal work in Marx’s thinking and an attack on the anarchist Pierre-Joséph Proudon’s Philosophy of Poverty. Marx memorably described his opponent as “petit bourgeois”, a epithet which resounded in all later Communist literature. Marx’s book paved the way for the Communist Manifesto, written between December 1847 and January 1848.
Marx has dated the letter "2 octobre" from his Brussels address in the rue d’Orléans. The letter is docketed "1848" in another hand. Marx was expelled from Brussels earlier in 1848, so the date of the letter must be 2 October 1847, which was also the year of publication of The Poverty of Philosophy.
- Vertical and horizontal folds.