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I have to admit that it is much better than I would have hoped for. Extremely witty and captures the personality of Karl Marx. Mehring's bio is actually not much of bio except for the bare-bones chronology of Marx's journey. It is much more of a primer for the major works of Karl Marx, which is certainly useful. Wheen, on the other hand, breathes life into the story in the same way that Raoul Peck does:

What is dialectic? As any schoolchild with a set of magnets -or, for that matter, any dating agency - will confirm, opposites can attract. If it were not so, the human race would be extinct. Female mates with male, and from their sweaty embrace a new creature emerges who will, eventually, repeat the process. Not always, of course, but often enough to ensure the survival and progress of the species.

The dialectic performs much the same function for the human mind. An idea, stripped naked, has a passionate grapple with its antithesis, from which a synthesis is created; this in turn becomes the new thesis, to be duly seduced by a new demon lover. Two wrongs may make a right - but, soon after its birth, that right becomes another wrong which must be subjected to the same intimate scrutiny as its forebears, and thus we go forward. Marx's own engagement with Hegel was itself something of a dialectical process, from which emerged the nameless infant that was to become historical materialism.

I simplify, of course; but one is obliged to simplify Hegel since much of his work would otherwise remain impenetrably obscure. As an eighteen-year-old, soon after arriving at Berlin University, Marx himself had mocked this opaqueness and ambiguity in a series of epigrams titled 'On Hegel':

Words I teach all mixed up into a devilish muddle,
Thus, anyone may think just what he chooses to think;
Never, at least, is he hemmed in by strict limitations.
Bubbling out of the flood, plummeting down from the cliff,
So are his Beloved's words and thoughts that the Poet devises;
He understands what he thinks, freely invents what he feels. Thus, each may for himself suck wisdom's nourishing nectar;
Now you know all, since I've said plenty of nothing to you!

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