Patrick Eiden-Offe
translated by Jacob Blumenfeld

The Poetry of Class
Romantic Anti-Capitalism and the Invention of the Proletariat

Historical Materialism Book Series vol. 305
Brill, Leiden 2023, 303 pages
ISBN 978-90-04-68545-1 (Print); 978-90-04-68553-6 (PDF)

In the early 19th century, a new social collective emerged out of impoverished artisans, urban rabble, wandering rural lower classes, bankrupt aristocrats and precarious intellectuals, one that would soon be called the proletariat. But this did not yet exist as a unified, homogeneous class with affiliated political parties. The motley appearance, the dreams and longings of these figures, torn from all economic certainties, found new forms of narration in romantic novellas, reportages, social-statistical studies, and monthly bulletins. But soon enough, these disorderly, violent, nostalgic, errant, and utopian figures were denigrated as reactionary and anarchic by the heads of the labour movement, since they did not fit into their grand linear vision of progress. In this book, Patrick Eiden-Offe tells their story, tracing the making of the proletariat in Vörmarz Germany (1815–1848) through the writings of figures like Ludwig Tieck, Moses Hess, Wilhelm Weitling, Georg Weerth, Friedrich Engels, Louise Otto-Peters, Ernst Willkomm, and Georg Büchner, and in so doing, revealing a striking similarity to the disorderly classes of today.


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Book launch
11 Nov 2023 · 9.00 am

Patrick Eiden-Offe: The Poetry of Class: Romantic Anti-Capitalism and the Invention of the Proletariat

SOAS, Russell Square, Central London

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