What follows is an excerpt from Maurice Cornforth’s 1952 Readers’ Guide to the Marxist Classics.


(4) V. I. Lenin. “Karl Marx.” V. I. Lenin Collected Works, Vol. 21, Progress Publishers, 1964, 43-91.

(5) V. I. Lenin. “Frederick Engels.” V. I. Lenin Collected Works, Vol. 2, Progress Publishers, 1960, 15-28.

LENIN: “Karl Marx.”

This little book, which Lenin wrote in 1914 while in exile in Switzerland, contains a brief but comprehensive account of all the most essential elements of Marx’s teachings, which it summarises under seven heads:

  1. Philosophic Materialism
  2. Dialectics
  3. The Materialist Conception of History
  4. Class Struggle
  5. Marx’s Economic Doctrine
  6. Socialism
  7. The Tactics of the Class Struggle of the Proletariat.

Here the reader will find (a) an outline of the main ideas of Marxism in each particular field of study, and (b) a vivid demonstration of the consistency and unity of conception of Marxism, which welds all the detailed studies into a single whole—the theory and practice of scientific socialism.

LENIN: “Frederick Engels.”

Lenin’s article written on the death of Engels in 1895, gives an account of the life of Engels, of his association with Marx and of his main works.

Summing up the teachings of Marx and Engels and their services to the working class, Lenin says:

In a few words, the services rendered by Marx and Engels to the working class may be expressed thus. They taught the working class to know itself, and to become class conscious, and they substituted science for dreaming…. The emancipation of the proletariat must be the work of the proletariat itself. This is what Marx and Engels constantly taught.

In his Speech at the Unveiling of a Memorial to Marx and Engels in 1919, Lenin again briefly summarised the services of Marx and Engels.

A further brief summary is given by Lenin in his article On the Theory of Marxism.


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