Frederick Engels 1874

Refugee Literature


Source: Marx Engels On Literature and Art, Progress Publishers, 1976;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

Anyway, the Russian movement can take such revelations wtih equanimity. A country that has produced two writers of the stature of Dobrolyubov and Chernyshevsky, two socialist Lessings, will not go down simply because it gives birth all at once to a humbug like Bakunin and a few green students who, with big words, puff themselves up like frogs and finally devour each other. Indeed, among the younger generation of Russians, too, we know people of excellent. theoretical and practical ability and great energy, who surpass the French and the English, by dint of their grasp of languages, in terms of intimate knowledge of the movement in different countries, and the Germans in worldly cleverness. Those Russians who understand the workers’ movement and participate in it can only consider the fact that they have been absolved from responsibility for the Bakuninist villainous tricks as a service rendered to them.



Many strange phenomena in the Russian movement are explained by the fact that for a long time every Russian work was for the West a book scaled with seven seals, and that it was therefore easy for Bakunin and Co. to conceal their activities, which had long been known to the Russians, from the West.... This has now stopped. Knowledge of the Russian language — a language whose study is richly rewarding both for its own sake, it being the most expressive and rich living language, and on account of the literature which it makes accessible — is no longer such a great rarity, at least among German Social-Democrats.