Famous Marriages Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen Part 2

About the marriage between Communist Manifesto author Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen, history of their courtship.


Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen

Heinrich Marx was more than a little concerned. The whole affair seemed preposterous to him, a careful man who at the respectable age of 30 had looked for a wife among his own kind and had selected an excellent hausfrau. Still, he was not unsympathetic, for who would not consider it an honor to have Jenny von Westphalen for a daughter-in-law? But he was the baron's longtime neighbor and trusted friend; how could he hold back such information from him? In the end he decided to rely on the changeability of the human heart to solve his problem for him; a university degree, after all, took a minimum of three years. Meanwhile, Karl, in Berlin, would be well out of harm's way.

Karl's university career was not the exemplary one that might have been expected of a young man trying to make his way in the world in order to be worthy of a particularly desirable young fiancee. On the contrary, he squandered most of his time and energy and all of his money, and his letters home, instead of reporting unremitting study and firm resolve, were filled with romantic rhapsodies and exalted outpourings of his love for Jenny. It is debatable how much even Jenny (who had her practical side and was getting older every day) appreciated his effusions. More gratifying were the three collections of his poems he sent her--Buch der Lieder and two volumes of Buch der Liebe, all dedicated to "my dear, eternally beloved Jenny von Westphalen." These proved the surest key to her affections.

Time passed. Karl, to his family's relief, dropped poetry for law; then, to their despair, abandoned law for metaphysics, and metaphysics for philosophy. Heinrich Marx, ever amazed at Jenny's continuing devotion to his strange son, died; a few years later the old baron, too, was dead. Jenny moved with her mother to Kreuznach. For a while Karl remained in Berlin, the bohemian student to a T, attending few lectures, studying only what he liked, and earning his Ph.D. in Jena in 1841. He went on to Cologne to edit the Rheinische Zeitung, a revolutionary newspaper which was suppressed in 1843. By the time he finally returned home, seven years had passed. True to their original pact, Jenny had waited.

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