Note de lecture parue dans le nouveau Socialist standard de février 2009
Les souvenirs de Charles Bonnier. Un intellectuel socialiste européen à la belle époque. Ed. Gilles Candar. Septentrion, Paris.
In a footnote that Engels added to the 4th German edition in 1891 of his The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State he mentioned that “a French friend and admirer of Wagner” did not agree with a remark of Marx’s about the early family. The friend in question was Charles Bonnier, who at the time was a young man in his late 20s (he was born in 1863 and died in 1926).
Bonnier was a member of the French Workers Party and a personal friend of its leading figure, Jules Guesde. Because of his knowledge of German he represented the party at international congresses. He had originally planned to pursue an academic career, in linguistics, in Germany but was barred under Bismarck’s notorious Anti-Socialist Law. Instead, he went to England where he lived from 1890 to 1913, teaching in schools and to students in Oxford and, later, as a professor in French Literature at Liverpool University.
These memoirs (in French) are not all that political but he does have comments on the personalities of the leading lights of the Second International who he met, not just Engels but Wilhelm Liebknecht, Eduard Bernstein and Paul Lafargue. We learn that Eleanor Marx kept a number of black cats and that Engels had a nephew-in-law who was a Tory.