As the man behind Communism, Karl Marx has been revered as a prophet and blamed for some of the darkest atrocities of modern times.
But who was this man, what did he experience in his lifetime, and what molded his political philosophy?
Historian Jonathan Sperber seeks those answers in a discussion of his book Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life on Thursday, July 25, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Returning Marx to the Victorian confines of the 19th century, Sperber challenges many of our misconceptions of this political firebrand-turned-London émigré journalist. In this deeply humanizing portrait, Marx no longer is the Olympian soothsayer, divining the dialectical imperatives of human history, but a scholar-activist whose revolutionary views were closer to those of Robespierre than those of 20th-century Marxists.
Drawing on never-before-available writings by Marx and his editor, Friedrich Engels, Sperber juxtaposes the private man, the public agitator, and the philosopher--economist.
Presenting Marx's personal story - his rambunctious university years, his loving marriage (despite an illegitimate child with the family maid), his children's tragic deaths, catastrophic financial problems--within a larger historical stage, Sperber examines Marx's public actions and theoretical publications against the backdrop of a European continent roiling with political and social unrest.
The result is not just a biography of a man but a vibrant portrait of an infinitely complex time.
Sperber is the Curators' Professor of History at the University of Missouri. He has written extensively on the social and political history of 19th-century Europe. Among his books are The European Revolutions, 1848-1851, Rhineland Radicals, The Kaiser's Voters, and Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth-Century Germany.
The event is sponsored by Adam Starr and the Lawrence D. Starr Charitable Foundation.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.