By Franz Mehring.
"When a proposal was made to publish the correspondence which had passed between Marx and Engels, Marx’s daughter, Madame Laura Lafargue, made it a condition of her agreement that I should take part in the editorial work as her representative...during the long work I did in connection with the publication of the correspondence, the knowledge which I had gained of Karl Marx during many years of study was rounded out. I felt the spontaneous desire to give it a biographical frame.
My admiration and my criticism – and both these things must have an equal place in any good biography – have been centred on a great man whose favorite and most frequent utterance about himself was, “nothing human is foreign to me.” The task which I set myself when I undertook this work was to present him in all his powerful and rugged greatness.
There is no doubt that the incomparable stature of Marx is due not a little to the fact that in him the man of ideas was indissolubly bound up with the man of action, and that the two mutually complemented and supported each other. Neither is there any doubt that the fighter in him always took precedence over the thinker. The great pioneers of socialism were all in agreement in this respect; as Lassalle once put it, how gladly would he leave unwritten all he knew if only the time for action would come! And in our own days we have observed with horror how right they were. Lifelong followers of Marx, men who had brooded for three and even four decades over every comma in his writings, failed utterly at the historic moment when for once they might and should have acted like Marx. Instead they swung this way and that, like creaking weather vanes in a blustering wind."
Berlin-Steglitz, March, 1918.