From the Memoires de R. Levasseur (De La Sarthe). Paris, 1829

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Author(s) Karl Marx

Note from MECW :

The summary of the first volume of the Jacobin Levasseur’s Memoirs was compiled by Marx in connection with his plans to write a work on the history of the French Revolution. Marx began to be interested in the revolutionary events in France at the end of the eighteenth century as early as the summer of 1843, as can be seen from his excerpts from special works on this subject by the German historians Wachsmuth and Ludwig contained in the Kreuznach Notebooks. As evidenced by A. Ruge (Ruge’s letters to Feuerbach of May 15, 1844, to Fleischer of May 20 and July 9, 1844 — see A. Ruges Briefwechsel und Tagebuchblätter, Bd. 1, Berlin, 1886), after he had moved to Paris in the autumn of 1843, Marx planned to write a work on the history of the French Convention. He worked on it during several months of 1844, reading a lot of material, including the press of the time, memoirs of contemporaries, etc. In 1845 the radical Trier’sche Zeitung also wrote about these plans of Marx, which were never realised, in connection with Marx’s banishment from France. Excerpts from Levasseur’s Memoirs were published in the newspaper Vorwärts! in 1844, evidently on Marx’s advice.

The time when this conspectus was compiled apparently coincided with the beginning of Marx’s economic research: it is contained in the third notebook of the series with excerpts from the works of economists which Marx made since his arrival in Paris to August 1844. Besides the summary of Levasseur’s Memoirs, the notebook contains the end of the excerpts from the French translation of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations begun in the second notebook.

The pages of the notebook are divided into two columns by a vertical line. On the left-hand side Marx wrote direct quotations from the book in French (only one quotation is in German) or gave brief rendering in German of separate passages. Marx’s own text consists of laconic comments and references which are typed in long primer in this edition. On the right-hand side there is more coherent rendering of the book’s contents to which Marx gave the title: “The Struggle Between the Montagnards and the Girondists”. The whole text is in German with the exception of some French terms and expressions which are given in the original in this edition. In some cases, especially when assessing events and public figures, Marx also quotes from Levasseur’s text word for word or almost word for word in German. These passages are typed in small type (the quotation marks being the editors').

In this edition we publish first the text of the left columns under the subheading “Excerpts”, and then the text of the summary proper, written in the right columns. The italics are Marx’s.