Scorpion and Felix

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Scorpion and Felix, A Humoristic Novel
Karl Marx as a student in 1836.
Author Karl Marx
Original title Skorpion und Felix, Humoristischer Roman
Country Germany
Language German
Genre Comedic novel
Publisher not published
Media type unfinished manuscript

Scorpion and Felix, A Humoristic Novel (German: Skorpion und Felix, Humoristischer Roman) is the only comedic fictional story to have been written by Karl Marx. Written in 1837 when he was 19 years old, it has remained unpublished.[1][2] It was likely written under the influence of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne.[1]


The novel is told by a first-person narrator in the present tense. The plot revolves around three main characters, Felix, Scorpion, and Merten, and their quest to uncover their origins. The novel seems to take an ironic polemic with philosophy.[3] It has also been described as satirical.[4]

The surviving fragments of the book's manuscript have not been well regarded. Francis Wheen in his biography of Marx characterizes the work as "a nonsensical torrent of whimsy and persiflage" which was "dashed off in a fit of intoxicated whimsy," although he notes that a paragraph from that novel appears in a slightly changed form as a "famous opening paragraph" in the The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.[1]

Siegbert Salomon Prawer noted that the book is notable for being Marx's first attempt to discuss politics, and that it begins his polemic with Hegel.[5] Anna Kornbluh, however, argued that the piece is a polemic with Locke, Fichte, and Kant, but not Hegel.[3] She also commented more positively on the novel, concluding that is shows how even a young Marx "pursued logico-formal connections behind the veil of the visible, how thoroughly he tracked different forms of appearance of the real within ontologically positive reality".[3]

The novel was never finished.[6] Only some chapters of the novel survive to the modern day.[7] Parts of the novel could have been burned by Marx himself, along with some other early works of his.[2] The parts that survive are those fragments that Marx included as a supplement when he published his Book of Verse (1837).

The surviving fragments of Marx's novel were published in English for the first time in 1975 as part of Volume 1 of Marx-Engels Collected Works.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Francis Wheen, Karl Marx. London: Fourth Estate, 1999; pp. 25–26.
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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Anna Kornbluh. On Marx’s Victorian Novel. Mediations. Journal of the Marxist Literary Group. Mediations: Journal of the Marxist Literary GroupVolume 25, No. 1. Fall 2010
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  8. "Supplementary to Dedicated Verses: Some Chapters from Scorpion and Felix: A Humoristic Novel," in Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Marx-Engels Collected Works: Volume 1: Marx, 1835-1843. New York: International Publishers, 1975; pp. 616-632.

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