Comparative Literature 577 • Fall 1999
Dickens, Marx & Freud
A 19th Century Trialogue for the 21st Century

William A. Nericcio
Associate Professor
English and Comparative Literature

It is an odd and remarkable cocktail party of sorts--our seminar, that is. With three guests of honor from three different nations speaking three different languages. From the Republic of Literature enters one bold and garrulous novelist, Charles Dickens. The Nation of Political Economy sends its infamous chronicler of systemic alienation and worker exploitation--a man most famous, perhaps, for having exposed the hypocrisy of Capital’s faith in motivated self-interest: Karl Marx. Last but not least, the fecund United States of Psychoanalysis have dispatched their very pater familias, that unassuming consumer of cigars, antiquities and reverie, Sigmund Freud. We are the hosts for this gala having set the stage for the momentous encounter of these three talented representatives of three disparate lands. And very soon we will see that their languages present no problem, for them or for us; rather than see ourselves as the creators of some festive new Babel, we will find instead to have constructed a context for new and innovative exegetic and theoretical exchange: instead of conflict, our guests will indulge in public reciprocation, evocative and clandestine semantic intercourse. And masters of ceremonies for this affair, we are not without our selfishness; we have some intrigue of our own: voyeurs of a sort, we will watch and listen for all manner of unforeseen exposures. Fasten your seatbelts, it promises to be one hell of a party.

Note: unless otherwise noted, it is highly recommended that you purchase the editions of the book presently available at the Campus Bookstore run with Bounderby-like precision by the Capitalists at Aztec Shops. The Broadview Press edition of Charles Dickens’s Hard Times: For These Times; the Oxford Illustrated Dickens edition of Charles Dickens’s Dealings With the Firm of Dombey and Son Wholesale, Retail, and For Exportation (With Forty Illustrations by Phiz); Any edition of the Ben Fowkes translation of Karl Marx’s Capital: Volume 1; and last but not least, the Avon OR Bard edition of the James Strachey translation of Sigmund Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams.

Attendance and Preparation

Each seminar you will be expected to enter the seminar room having diligently completed and feverishly analyzed the assigned reading for that day. As you read, take the time to write down the discussion questions you would like to see addressed during the seminar. This is OUR seminar, not MY podium; our group will only be as good and as adventurous as YOU and I have the courage to imagine. We are, in this context, to be devotees of what Friedrich Nietzsche termed play, which is nothing more or less than play, as you presently understand it plus a rigorous, skeptical and irreverent irony and invention not always associated with that diversionary concept. In addition, it will be useful for you to keep a small diary beside your bed wherein to record fragments or, if you are lucky, narrative passages of your dreams. This is not to be turned in, it is only meant to add to your enjoyment and understanding of Freud’s work. If you want to start up a corporation to understand Marx on Capital and write 1000 page, three volume novels to recreate Dickens’s world view as well, you are welcome to do it, though again, you are by no means compelled to ever turn them in.

Graded Assignments

There will be from time to time, short one page Speculation Fragment assignments given throughout the semester--anywhere from one to three of these will appear at some time. The main writing for the course, however, is a ten to fifteen critical, analytical and/or speculative essay, wherein you will attempt to synthesize comparatively some aspect of Dickens, Marx AND Freud’s writing. Later in the semester I will hand you suggestions for this essay, but they are mere SUGGESTIONS. I would much rather you design your own thesis to explore. A one page proposal describing your speculative project is due October 22; the essay itself is due Tuesday December 7,the last day of class where we will share our conclusions and our work with each other for the last time.

Office Hours

I look forward to meeting and talking with you outside our seminar during office hours. My office is located in the utmost reaches of that epitome of Utilitarian ugliness, Adams Humanities 4117. I keep my regular office hours on Tuesdays from 11:15 to 2:00 and my phone number is 594.1524. My eMail address is


We will run our weekly "cocktail party" as a seminar; as such there will be NO FINAL EXAM and your grade will be determined by your contributions to the seminar (35%), your brief speculation fragments (25%) and your seminar paper (40%).
cool interview with marx
by H.  The Chicago Tribune, January 5 1879

London, December 18 [1878] -- In a little villa at Haverstock Hill, the
northwest portion of London, lives Karl Marx, the cornerstone of modern
socialism. He was exiled from his native country -- Germany -- in 1844, for
propagating revolutionary theories. In 1848, he returned, but in a few
months was again exiled. He then took up his abode in Paris, but his
political theories procured his expulsion from that city in 1849, and since
that year his headquarters have been in London. His convictions have caused
him trouble from the beginning. Judging from the appearance of his home, the
certainly have not brought him affluence. Persistently during all these
years he has advocated his views with an earnestness which undoubtedly
springs from a firm belief in them, and, however much we may deprecate their
propagation, we cannot but respect to a certain extent the self-denial of
the now venerable exile.

Your correspondent has called upon him twice or thrice, and each time the
Doctor was found in his library, with a book in one hand and a cigarette in
the other. He must be over seventy years of age. [Marx was sixty.] His
physique is well knit, massive, erect. He has the head of a man of
intellect, and the features of a cultivated Jew. His hair and beard are
long, and iron-gray in color. His eyes are glittering black, shaded by a
pair of bushy eyebrows. To a stranger he shows extreme caution. A foreigner
can generally gain admission; but the ancient-looking German woman [Helene
Demuth] who waits upon visitors has instructions to admit none who hail from
the Fatherland, unless they bring letters of introduction. Once into his
library, however, and having fixed his one eyeglass in the corner of his
eye, in order to take your intellectual breadth and depth, so to speak, he
loses that self-restraint, and unfolds to you a knowledge of men and things
throughout the world apt to interest one. And his conversation does not run
in one groove, but is as varied as are the volumes upon his library shelves.
A man can generally be judged by the books he reads, and you can form your
own conclusions when I tell you a casual glance revealed Shakespeare,
Dickens, Thackeray, Moliere, Racine, Montaigne, Bacon, Goethe, Voltaire,
Paine; English, American, French blue books; works political and
philosophical in Russian, German, Spanish, Italian, etc., etc. During my
conversation I was struck with his Intimacy with American Questions 
which have been uppermost during the past twenty years. His knowledge of
them, and the surprising accuracy with which he criticized our national and
state legislation, impressed upon my mind the fact that he must have derived
his information from inside sources. But, indeed, this knowledge is not
confined to America, but is spread over the face of Europe. When speaking of
his hobby -- socialism -- he does not indulge in those melodramatic flights
generally attributed to him, but dwells upon his utopian plans for "the
emancipation of the human race" with a gravity and an earnestness indicating
a firm conviction in the realization of his theories, if not in this
century, at least in the next.

Perhaps Dr. Karl Marx is better known in America as the author of Capital,
and the founder of the International Society, or at least its most prominent
pillar. In the interview which follows, you will see what he says of this
Society as it at present exists. However, in the meantime I will give you a
few extracts from the printed general rules of The International Society
published in 1871, by order of the General Council, from which you can form
an impartial judgment of its aims and ends. The Preamble sets forth "that
the emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working
classes themselves; that the struggle for the emancipation of the working
classes means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies, but for
equal rights and duties, and the abolition of all class rule; that the
economical subjection of the man of labor to the monopolizer of the means of
labor -- that is, the sources of life -- lies at the bottom of servitude in
all its forms, of all social misery, mental degradation, and political
dependence; that all efforts aiming at" the universal emancipation of the
working classes "have hitherto failed from want of solidarity between the
manifold divisions of labor in each country," and the Preamble calls for
"the immediate combination of the still-disconnected movements." It goes on
to say that the International Association acknowledges "no rights without
duties, no duties without rights" -- thus making every member a worker. the
Association was formed at London "to afford a central medium of
communication and cooperation between the workingmen's societies in the
different countries," aiming at the same end, namely: "the protection,
advancement, and complete emancipation of the working classes." "Each
member," the document further says, "of the International Association, on
removing his domicile from one country to another, will receive the
fraternal support of the associated workingmen." The Society Consists
of a general Congress, which meets annually, a general Council, which forms
"an international agency between the different national and local groups of
the Association, so that the workingmen in one country can be constantly
informed of the movements of their class in every other country." This
Council receives and acts upon the applications of new branches or sections
to join the International, decides differences arising between the sections,
and, in fact, to use an American phrase, "runs the machine." The expenses of
the General Council are defrayed by an annual contribution of an English
penny per member. Then come the federal councils or committees, and local
sections, in the various countries. The federal councils are bound to send
one report at least every month to the General Council, and every three
months a report on the administration and financial state of their
respective branches. whenever attacks against the International are
published, the nearest branch or committee is bound to send at once a copy
of such publication to the General Council. The formation of female branches
among the working classes is recommended.

 The General Council comprises the following: R. Applegarth, M.T. Boon, Frederick Bradnick, G.H.
Buttery, E. Delahaye, Eugene Dupont (on mission), William Hales, G. Harris,
Hurliman, Jules Johannard, Harriet Law, Frederick Lessner, Lochner, Charles
Longuet, C. Martin, Zevy Maurice, Henry Mayo, George Milner, Charles Murray, Pfander, John Pach, Ruhl Sadler, Cowell Stepney, Alfred Taylor, W.
Townshend, E. Vaillant, John Weston. The corresponding secretaries for the
various countries are: Leo Frankel, for Austria and Hungary; A. Herman,
Belgium; T. Mottershead, Denmark; A. Serrailler, France; Karl Marx, Germany
and Russia; Charles Rochat, Holland; J.P. McDonell, Ireland; Frederick
Engels, Italy and Spain; Walery Wroblewski, Poland; Hermann Jung,
Switzerland; J.G. Eccarius, United States; Le Moussu, for French branches of
United States.

During my visit to Dr. Marx, I alluded to the platform given by J.C.
Bancroft Davis in his official report of 1877 as the clearest and most
concise exposition of socialism that I had seen. He said it was taken from
the report of the socialist reunion at Gotha, Germany, in May, 1875. The
translation was incorrect, he said, and he

                           Volunteered Correction

which I append as he dictated:

First: Universal, direct, and secret suffrage for all males over twenty
years, for all elections, municipal and state.
Second: Direct legislation by the people. War and peace to be made by direct
popular vote.
Third: Universal obligation to militia duty. No standing army.
Fourth: Abolition of all special legislation regarding press laws and public
Fifth: Legal remedies free of expense. Legal proceedings to be conducted by
the people.
Sixth: Education to be by the state -- general, obligatory, and free.
Freedom of science and religion.
Seventh: All indirect taxes to be abolished. Money to be raised for state
and municipal purposes by direct progressive income tax.
Eighth: Freedom of combination among the working classes.
Ninth: The legal day of labor for men to be defined. The work of women to be
limited, and that of children to be abolished.
Tenth: Sanitary laws for the protection of life and health of laborers, and
regulation of their dwelling and places of labor, to be enforced by persons
selected by them.
Eleventh: Suitable provision respecting prison labor. In Mr. Bancroft Davis'
report there is

A Twelfth Clause
the most important of all, which reads: "State aid and credit for industrial
societies, under democratic direction." I asked the Doctor why he omitted
this, and he replied:

"When the reunion took place at Gotha, in 1875, there existed a division
among the Social Democrats. The one wing were partisans of Lassalle, the
others those who had accepted in general the program of the International
organization, and were called the Eisenach party. The twelfth point was not
placed on the platform, but placed in the general introduction by way of
concession to the Lassallians. Afterwards it was never spoken of. Mr. Davis
does not say that is was placed in the program as a compromise having no
particular significance, but gravely puts it in as one of the cardinal
principles of the program."

"But," I said, "socialists generally look upon the transformation of the
means of labor into the common property of society as the grand climax of
the movement."

"Yes; we say that this will be the outcome of the movement, but it will be a
question of time, of education, and the institution of higher social

"This platform," I remarked, "applies only to Germany and one or two other

"Ah!" he returned, "if you draw your conclusions from nothing but this, you
know nothing of the activity of the party. Many of its points have no
significance outside of Germany. Spain, Russia, England, and America have
platforms suited to their peculiar difficulties. The only similarity in them
is the end to be attained."

"And that is the supremacy of labor?"

"That is the Emancipation of Labor"

"Do European socialists look upon the movement in America as a serious one?"

"Yes: it is the natural outcome of the country's development. It has been
said that the movement has been improved by foreigners. When labor movements
became disagreeable in England, fifty years ago, the same thing was said;
and that was long before socialism was spoken of. In American, since 1857
only has the labor movement become conspicuous. Then trade unions began to
flourish; then trades assemblies were formed, in which the workers in
different industries united; and after that came national labor unions. If
you consider this chronological progress, you will see that socialism has
sprung up in that country without the aid of foreigners, and was merely
caused by the concentration of capital and the changed relations between the
workmen and employers."

"Now," asked your correspondent, "what has socialism done so far?"

"Two things," he returned. "Socialists have shown the general universal
struggle between capital and labor --

                          The Cosmopolitan Chapter

in one word -- and consequently tried to bring about an understanding
between the workmen in the different countries, which became more necessary
as the capitalists became more cosmopolitan in hiring labor, pitting foreign
against native labor not only in America, but in england, France, and
Germany. International relations sprang up at once between workingmen in the
three different countries, showing that socialism was not merely a local,
but an international problem, to be solved by the international action of
workmen. The working classes move spontaneously, without knowing what the
ends of the movement will be. The socialists invent no movement, but merely
tell the workmen what its character and its ends will be."

"Which means the overthrowing of the present social system," I interrupted.

"This system of land and capital in the hands of employers, on the one
hand," he continued, "and the mere working power in the hands of the
laborers to sell a commodity, we claim is merely a historical phase, which
will pass away and give place to A Higher Social Condition.
We see everywhere a division of society. The antagonism of the two classes
goes hand in hand with the development of the industrial resources of modern
countries. From a socialistic standpoint the means already exist to
revolutionize the present historical phase. Upon trade unions, in many
countries, have been built political organizations. In America the need of
an independent workingmen's party has been made manifest. They can no longer
trust politicians. Rings and cliques have seized upon the legislatures, and
politics has been made a trade. But America is not alone in this, only its
people are more decisive than Europeans. Things come to the surface quicker.
There is less cant and hypocrisy that there is on this side of the ocean."

I asked him to give me a reason for the rapid growth of the socialistic
party in Germany, when he replied: "The present socialistic party came last.
Theirs was not the utopian scheme which made headway in France and England.
The German mind is given to theorizing, more than that of other peoples.
From previous experience the Germans evolved something practical. This
modern capitalistic system, you must recollect, is quite new in Germany in
comparison to other states. Questions were raised which had become almost
antiquated in France and England, and political influences to which these
states had yielded sprang into life when the working classes of Germany had
become imbued with socialistic theories. therefore, from the beginning
almost of modern industrial development, they have formed an

                         Independent Political Party

They had their own representatives in the German parliament. There was no
party to oppose the policy of the government, and this devolved upon them.
To trace the course of the party would take a long time; but I may say this:
that, if the middle classes of Germany were not the greatest cowards,
distinct from the middle classes of America and England, all the political
work against the government should have been done by them."

I asked him a question regarding the numerical strength of the Lassallians
in the ranks of the Internationalists.

"The party of Lassalle," he replied, "does not exist. Of course there are
some believers in our ranks, but the number is small. Lassalle anticipated
our general principles. When he commenced to move after the reaction of
1848, he fancied that he could more successfully revive the movement by
advocating cooperation of the workingmen in industrial enterprises. It was
to stir them into activity. he looked upon this merely as a means to the
real end of the movement. I have letters from his to this effect."

"You would call it his nostrum?"

"Exactly. He called upon Bismarck, told him what he designed, and Bismarck
encouraged Lassalle's course at that time in every possible way."

"What was his object?"

"He wished to use the working classes as a set-off against the middle
classes who instigated the troubles of 1848."

"It is said that you are the head and front of socialism, Doctor, and from
your villa here pull the wires of all the associations, revolutions, etc.,
now going on. What do you say about it?"

The old gentleman smiled: "I know it.

                              It Is Very Absurd

yet it has a comic side. For two months previous to the attempt of Hoedel,
Bismarck complained in his North German Gazette that I was in league with
Father Beck, the leader of the Jesuit movement, and that we were keeping the
socialist movement in such a condition that he could do nothing with it."

"But your International Society in London directs the movement?"

"The International Society has outlived its usefulness and exists no longer.
It did exist and direct the movement; but the growth of socialism of late
years has been so great that its existence has become unnecessary.
Newspapers have been started in the various countries. These are
interchanged. That is about the only connection the parties in the different
countries have with one another. The International Society, in the first
instance, was created to bring the workmen together, and show the
advisability of effecting organization among their various nationalities.
The interests of each party in the different countries have no similarity.
This specter of the Internationalist leaders sitting at London is a mere
invention. It is true that we dictated to foreign societies when the
Internationalist organization was first accomplished. We were forced to
exclude some sections in New York, among them one in which Madam Woodhull
was conspicuous. that was in 1871. there are several American politicians --
I will not name them -- who wish to trade in the movement. They are well
known to American socialists."

"You are your followers, Dr. Marx, have been credited with all sorts of
incendiary speeches against religion. Of course you would like to see the
whole system destroyed, root and branch."

"We know," he replied after a moment's hesitation, "that violent measures
against religion are nonsense; but this is an opinion: as socialism grows,

                           Religion Will Disappear

Its disappearance must be done by social development, in which education
must play a part."

"The Reverend Joseph Cook, of Boston -- you know him --"

"We have heard of him, a very badly informed man upon the subject of

"In a lecture lately upon the subject, he said, 'Karl Marx is credited now
with saying that, in the United States, and in Great Britain, and perhaps in
France, a reform of labor will occur without bloody revolution, but that
blood must be shed in Germany, and in Russia, and in Italy, and in

"No socialist," remarked the Doctor, smiling, "need predict that there will
be a bloody revolution in Russia, Germany, Austria, and possibly Italy if
the Italians keep on in the policy they are now pursuing. The deeds of the
French Revolution may be enacted again in those countries. That is apparent
to any political student. But those revolutions will be made by the
majority. No revolution can be made by a party,

                              But By a Nation"

"The reverend gentleman alluded to," I remarked, "gave an extract from a
letter which he said you addressed to the Communists of Paris in 1871. Here
it is: 'We are as yet but 3,000,000 at most. In twenty years we shall be
50,000,000 -- 100,000,000 perhaps. Then the world will belong to us, for it
will be not only Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, which will rise against odious
capital, but Berlin, Munich, Dresden, London, liverpool, Manchester,
Brussels, St. Petersburg, New York -- in short, the whole world. And before
this new insurrection, such as history has not yet known, the past will
disappear like a hideous nightmare; for the popular conflagration, kindled
at a hundred points at once, will destroy even its memory!' Now, Doctor, I
suppose you admit the authorship of that extract?"

"I never wrote a word of it. I never write

                         Such Melodramatic Nonsense

I am very careful what I do write. That was put in Le Figaro, over my
signature, about that time. There were hundreds of the same kind of letters
flying about them. I wrote to the London Times and declared they were
forgeries; but if I denied everything that has been said and written of me,
I would require a score of secretaries."

"But you have written in sympathy with the Paris Communists?"

"Certainly I have, in consideration of what was written of them in leading
articles; but the correspondence from Paris in ENglish papers is quite
sufficient to refute the blunders propagated in editorials. The Commune
killed only about sixty people; Marshal MacMahon and his slaughtering army
killed over 60,000. There has never been a movement so slandered as that of
the Commune."

"Well, then, to carry out the principles of socialism do its believers
advocate assassination and bloodshed?"

"No great movement," Karl answered, "has ever been inaugurated

                              Without Bloodshed

The independence of America was won by bloodshed, napoleon captured France
through a bloody process, and he was overthrown by the same means. Italy,
England, Germany, and every other country gives proof of this, and as for
assassination," he went on to say, "it is not a new thing, I need scarcely
say. Orsini tried to kill Napoleon; kings have killed more than anybody
else; the Jesuits have killed; the Puritans killed at the time of Cromwell.
These deeds were all done or attempted before socialism was born. Every
attempt, however, now made upon a royal or state individual is attributed to
socialism. The socialists would regret very much the death of the German
Emperor at the present time. He is very useful where he is; and bismarck has
done more for the cause than any other statesman, by driving things to

I asked Dr. Marx

                         What He Thought of Bismarck

He replied that "Napoleon was considered a genius until he fell; then he was
called a fool. Bismarck will follow in his wake. He began by building up a
despotism under the plea of unification. his course has been plain to all.
The last move is but an attempted imitation of a coup d'etat; but it will
fail. The socialists of Germany, as of France, protested against the war of
1870 as merely dynastic. They issued manifestoes foretelling the German
people, if they allowed the pretended war of defense to be turned into a war
of conquest, they would be punished by the establishment of military
despotism and the ruthless oppression of the productive masses. The
Social-Democratic party in Germany, thereupon holding meetings and
publishing manifestoes for an honorable peace with France, were at once
prosecuted by the Prussian Government, and many of the leaders imprisoned.
Still their deputies alone dared to protest, and very vigorously too, in the
German Reichstag, against the forcible annexation of French provinces.
However, Bismarck carried his policy by force, and people spoke of the
genius of a Bismarck. The war was fought, and when he could make no
conquests, he was called upon for original ideas, and he has signally
failed. The people began to lose faith in him. His popularity was on the
wane. He needs money, and the state needs it. Under a sham constitution he
has taxed the people for his military and unification plans until he can tax
them no longer, and now he seeks to do it with no constitution at all. For
the purpose of levying as he chooses, he has raised the ghost of socialism,
and has done everything in his power

                            To Create an Emeute"

"You have continual advice from Berlin?"

"Yes," he said; "my friends keep me well advised. It is in a perfectly quiet
state, and Bismarck is disappointed. He has expelled forty-eight prominent
men -- among them Deputies Hasselman and Fritsche and Rackow, Bauman, and
Adler, of the Freie Presse. These men kept the workmen of Berlin quiet.
Bismarck knew this. He also knew that there were 75,000 workmen in that city
upon the verge of starvation. Once those leaders were gone, he was confident
that the mob would rise, and that would be the cue for a carnival of
slaughter. The screws would then be put upon the whole German Empire; his
petty theory of blood and iron would then have full sway, and taxation could
be levied to any extent. So far no emeute has occurred, and he stands today
confounded at the situation and the ridicule of all statesmen."
                                   - 30 -

The Sun,
No. 6, September 6, 1880 The interview with the editor of the progressive New York newspaper The Sun took place August 1880 Transcribed for the Internet Jan 18 1996 by z.

One of the most remarkable men of the day, who has played an inscrutable but
puissant part in the revolutionary politics of the past forty years, is Karl
Marx. A man without desire for show or fame, caring nothing for the
fanfaronade of life or the pretence of power, without haste and without
rest, a man of strong, broad, elevated mind, full of far-reaching projects,
logical methods, and practical aims, he has stood and yet stands behind more
of the earthquakes which have convulsed nations and destroyed thrones, and
do now menace and appal crowned heads and established frauds, than any other man in Europe, not excepting Joseph Mazzini himself. The student of Berlin,the critic of Hegelianism, the editor of papers, and the old-time
correspondent of the New York Tribune, he showed his qualities and his
spirit; the founder and master spirit of the once dreaded International and
the author of "Capital", he has been expelled from half the countries of
Europe, proscribed in nearly all of them, and for thirty years past has
found refuge in London. He was at Ramsgate the great seashore resort of the
Londoners, while I was in London, and there I found him in his cottage, with
his family of two generations. The saintly-faced, sweet-voiced, graceful
woman of suavity who welcomed me at the door was evidently the mistress of
the house and the wife of Karl Marx. And is this massive-headed,
generous-featured, courtly, kindly man of 60, with the bushy masses of long
revelling gray hair, Karl Marx? His dialogue reminded me of that of Socrates
-- so free, so sweeping, so creative, so incisive, so genuine -- with its
sardonic touches, its gleams of humor, and its sportive merriment. He spoke
of the political forces and popular movements of the various countries of
Europe -- the vast current of the spirit of Russia, the motions of the
German mind, the action of France, the immobility of England. He spoke
hopefully of Russia, philosophically of Germany, cheerfully of France, and
sombrely of England -- referring contemptuously to the "atomistic reforms"
over which the Liberals of the British Parliament spend their time.
Surveying the European world, country after country, indicating the features
and the developments and the personages on the surface and under the
surface, he showed that things were working toward ends which will assuredly
be realized. I was often surprised as he spoke. It was evident that this
man, of whom so little is seen or heard, is deep in the times, and that,
from the Neva to the Seine, from the Urals to the Pyrenees, his hand is at
work preparing the way for the new advent. Nor is his work wasted now any
more than it has been in the past, during which so many desirable changes
have been brought about, so many heroic struggles have been seen, and the
French republic has been set up on the heights. As he spoke, the question I
had put, "Why are you doing nothing now?" was seen to be a question of the
unlearned, and one to which he could not make direct answer. Inquiring why
his great work "Capital", the seed field of so many crops, had not been put
into English as it has been put into Russian and French from the original
German, he seemed unable to tell, but said that a proposition for an English
translation had come to him from New York. He said that that book was but a
fragment, a single part of a work in three parts, two of the parts being yet
unpublished, the full trilogy being "Land", "Capital", "Credit" , the last
part, he said, being largely illustrated from the United States, where
credit has had such an amazing development. Mr. Marx is an observer of
American action, and his remarks upon some of the formative and substantive
forces of American life were full of suggestiveness. By the way, in
referring to his "Capital", he said that any one who might desire to read it
would find the French translation much superior in many ways to the German
original. Mr. Marx referred to Henri Rochefort the Frenchman, and in his
talk of some of his dead disciples, the stormy Bakunin, the brilliant
Lassalle, and others, I could see how his genius had taken hold of men who,
under other circumstances, might have directed the course of history.

The afternoon is waning toward the twilight of an English summer evening as
Mr. Marx discourses, and he proposes a walk through the seaside town and
along the shore to the beach, upon which we see many thousand people,
largely children, disporting themselves. Here we find on the sands his
family party -- the wife, who had already welcomed me, his two daughters
with their children, and his two sons-in-law, one of whom is a Professor in
King's College, London, and the other, I believe, a man of letters. It was a
delightful party -- about ten in all -- the father of the two young wives,
who were happy with their children, and the grandmother of the children,
rich in the joysomeness and serenity of her wifely nature. Not less finely
than Victor Hugo himself does Karl Marx understand the art of being a
grandfather; but, more fortunate than Hugo, the married children of Marx
live to cheer his years. Toward nightfall he and his sons-in-law part from
their families to pass an hour with their American guest. And the talk was
of the world, and of man, and of time, and of ideas, as our glasses tinkled
over the sea. The railway train waits for no man, and night is at hand. Over
the thought of the babblement and rack of the age and the ages, over the
talk of the day and the scenes of the evening, arose in my mind one question
touching upon the final law of being, for which I would seek answer from
this sage. Going down to the depth of language, and rising to the height of
emphasis, during an interspace of silence, I interrogated the revolutionist
and philosopher in these fateful words, "What is?" And it seemed as though
his mind were inverted for a moment while he looked upon the roaring sea in
front and the restless multitude upon the beach. "What is?" I had inquired,
to which, in deep and solemn tone, he replied: "Struggle!"

At first it seemed as though I had heard the echo of despair; but,
peradventure, it was the law of life.

                                   - 30 -

Day to Day Menu of Assignments

Tuesday, Aug. 31

Dickens, Marx and Freud: an introduction

All is a blur.

Tuesday, Sept. 7

Writing Break, NO CLASS

Tuesday, Sept. 14

Read Dickens’s Hard Times. Keep a keen eye out for passages that anticipate our encounter with Marx and Freud in the coming weeks--attend to stories of political economy and the unconscious that Dickens broaches in his own inimitable fashion.

Tuesday, Sept. 21

Reading really gets good this week as we test the comparative premise of the class; please do pace yourself as it will be relatively easy to burn out. Dickens: Read to page 61 in Dombey and Son. Marx 125 to 177; avoid the Mandel preface for now and read Marx’s prefaces only if you must for the moment. Freud: Read pages 35 to 127 from The Interpretation of Dreams--do not read Freud’s prefaces, save perhaps the first (xxiii-xxiv) until AFTER you complete your reading, if at all; it is not mandatory; Read Strachey’s editorial introduction AFTER as well. You may read in ANY order you wish. Above all, have fun and don’t tax yourself as much with what you don’t understand; concentrate on what you are discovering. When you finish the three bits of reading; sit down and type a one page, double-spaced response to this prompt: "The most striking connection between Dickens, Marx and Freud in this week’s trialogue concerns the idea of _______________"

Tuesday, Sept. 28

Dickens: Read to page 135, the end of chapter X.

Marx: devour 178-244-->keep an eye on Marx’s footnotes: some of his most interesting work goes on here beneath the surface (this is true of Freud as well, speaking of whom...)

Freud: eat up pages 128 to 195.

In the reading for this week please do note the metaphors each author employs; are there particular overlaps that seem to transcend coincidence; are their rhetorical or figurative practices in Europe that transcend national and linguistic boundaries and that operate at the level of ideology?

Tuesday, Oct. 5

Dickens: get down with 136 to 205 in Dombey; luxuriate in the sensual verbosity of this narrative fabulist.

Marx: dive into pages 247 to 280...few pages, but dense ones. Break out the calculator and go to it...even Marx’s math is alluring.

Freud: pages 196 to the middle of 253 are your home this week in Freud’s house. When you finish the three bits of reading; sit down and type a one page double-spaced response to this prompt: "The most striking difference between Dickens, Marx and Freud in this week’s trialogue is _______________"

Tuesday, Oct. 12

Dickens: luxuriate in page 206 to 285--keep a keen eye out for metaphorical shifts or general narratalogical tactical oscillations.

Marx: pages 281 to 339 are your home this week: beware the specter of the theory of SURPLUS VALUE; an encounter with these pages has augured the downfall of many a good Marxist fetishist in the past.

Freud: pages 253 to 310

Tuesday, Oct. 19

Dickens: 286 to352 provide you with something to do between your Halloween costume shopping outings.

Marx: 340 to 426, have fun watching how Capitalist’s profit off HANDS.

Freud: 311 to 439: A huge, but crucial chunk of reading as you delve into the peculiarities and particularities of what Freud termed the DREAMWORK.

Tuesday, Oct. 26

Dickens: 353 to 419--read on!

Marx: aaaaaaaaaaaagggghhhh relative surplus value; no sweat, just keep an eye out for Marx’s own modulations as he writes: pages 429 to 491

Freud: 440 to 496--note how an encounter with political economy infects your reading psychoanalytic approaches to dreams; note as well how your dreams begin to inflect your understanding of economics.

Your semester essay proposal is due today.

Tuesday, Nov. 2

Dickens: pages 420 to 531 keep you busy this week.

Marx: brace yourself-->pp 492 to 639 are your Marxist home for the week--a huge chunk of reading!!!!!!! But it will assist you as you read to keep the specter of Coketown before your eyes.

Freud: 497 to 525 are where you will lurk for this week’s seminar--only a few pages, but rich ones as well (also, a good chance to catch up in Freud if you are behind).

Tuesday, Nov. 9

Dickens: pages 531 to 603 give you something to chew on as we begin the homestretch.

Marx: pages 643 to 706 not too many pages, but all too much you may imagine as you plunge into these!

Freud: pages 526 to 611, Secondary Revision and Modified Wish-Fulfilments fills your plate.

Tuesday, Nov. 16

Dickens: pp.604 to 738 are your pages of delight this week; pace yourself, this will be a tough week.

Marx: pp.709 to 828, again, think of this as hell week. But cherish the rich mind of this singular 19th century philosopher.

Freud: Read from 612 "Arousal From Dreams" to 664. Carefully note how Freud executes his volume’s closure--might we speak of a "logic of denouement"? Guess what? We’re done with Freud...reading at least

Tuesday, Nov. 22

Dickens: read pages 739 to 827. Look closely as you read, as you did with Freud, at the way Dickens brings his opus to a close.

Marx: read pages 828 to 907.

Freud: Look back through your reading notes and begin to identify the sequences in the work that need closer examination but have been ignored.

Tuesday, Nov. 30

Dickens: Finish the novel.

Marx: Read to 940. You are done. Read the Mandel intro if you really must, but it is not required.

Freud: Have a dream that features Freud and yourself in a romantic context.

Tuesday, Dec. 7

No reading--essays presentations and essays due today. A Party as Well!!!! Freud, Dickens and Marx and their friends are invited.

essay 1 assignment
Critical/Analytical/Speculative Essay Assignment

A 10 to 15 page essay due Tuesday December 7 in class (nota bene: this is our actual Seminar day when we will share our work on Charles Dickens, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud with all our fellow cultural workers. Do take care to prepare and pace yourself so that your work and yourself arrive that day well rested and on time.

The essay should not be more than 15 pages in length, double-spaced typing throughout with one-inch margins on the top, bottom and sides. Do not use anything smaller than a 12 point font as I am rather infatuated with my visual skills and would be content to slow their inevitable deteriorization. Please do proofread your writing carefully. With regard to formatting niceties, you are free to use either the MLA or the University of Chicago citation stylesheets--though let me add here in writing you are under no pressure to solicit secondary research materials in composing your opus.

Possible Essay Topics:

1. Design your own thesis; one-page typed thesis proposal due TUESDAY OCTOBER 26 IN CLASS.

2. Much time has been spent in class attending to the metaphorical worlds Dickens, Marx and Freud weave in and through their works. Identify a dominant metaphorical chain that exists in all three books and explore how they relate to each other--even where authors use the same metaphor they may not use it to the same end.

3. Without question Dickens and Marx may be seen in their works to be redefining the domain of "political economy," understood here as "that branch of political science or philosophy which treats of the sources, and methods of production and preservation, of the material wealth and prosperity of nations." But in an odd and sometimes surprising way, Sigmund Freud as well may be understood to be concerned with articulating an "economy" as well, even if only a libidinal one. Explore the role of economics in Dickens, Marx and Freud.

4. Probe the role of desire in the works of Dickens, Marx and Freud.

5. Highlight the role of comedy in the works of Dickens, Marx and Freud.

6. Can it be argued that Dickens, Marx and Freud rethink the boundaries of their respective intellectual disciplines?

7. Consulting primary biographical material (letters, contemporary reviews, diaries etc), describe the connection between work and life impacting upon the rhetorical course of development of Dombey and Son, Capital I, and The Interpretation of Dreams.

William A. Nericcio
Associate Professor
Department of English & Comparative Literature
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, California 92182-8140
619.594.1524 (phone )