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June 17, 2007


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Actually, it's Marx whose grave is opposite Spencer's (as Spencer was the far more influential contemporary figure). It appears to be the other way around because that's not where Marx was originally buried. He was initially buried down the hill and across the way, in an obscure corner of Highgate. In the '50s, a group of Marxists pooled their funds, dug him up, and had him moved to the posh section of the graveyard, up there with Spencer, George Eliot, Michael Faraday, &c. His monument is so much bigger, well, because those who moved him wanted to make a statement. (As did the various people who have tried to blow it up.) There's a whole history of this in the footnotes of one of the biographies of Spencer. I could dig it up if you're interested.

Foucault Is Dead

I visited Gramsci in Rome. And was a bit freaked out when, upon later examining the Wikipedia page on Gramsci, I discovered that someone had used the vine growing up the left hand side of the grave to frame the obligatory photograph in exactly the same way that I had.

Rambling Thomas

Just out of interest, there's a bit of a capitalist-vs.-socialist "grave war" going on between Marx in Highgate and Adam Smith in Edinburgh -- Smith's grave got tarted up with a big stone plaque last year when an Edinburgh-educated oil boss took umbrage at the fact that KM's grave was in better shape.


These competitive deaths are intriguing. SEK--if you have time, I'd be quite interested. My friend, Noortje, told me that only 11 people showed up at Marx's funeral, so we figured that he must have been moved, but we didn't do any looking up or anything like that. We also thought the grave looked surprisingly vandal free, so I'm intrigued by the blowing up issue.

Rambling Thomas

Here's a bit from the Scotsman, June 2006:A campaign to give the grave more prominence was started four years ago and has resulted in today's official unveiling of an Adam Smith flagstone on the Canongate entrance to the Kirk and markers through the graveyard to the tomb of the Kirkcaldy-born philosopher.

Oil boss Bob Lamond, who was educated at George Heriot's and studied geology at Edinburgh University, donated £10,000 for the improvements, which he hopes will attract more visitors to the historic grave.

The grave has been given further prominence by a large Caithness stone slab, inscribed with a quotation from Smith's most famous book The Wealth of Nations, being installed in front of it thanks to a donation from the private bank Adam and Company, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Mr Lamond's interest in the grave came after he read an article in a business magazine during the mid-nineties contrasting the state of Smith's dilapidated tomb in Edinburgh with the well-kept grave of socialist philosopher Karl Marx in London.

"I was amazed to read this," explained Mr Lamond, 61, a regular visitor to the Capital since he moved to Canada in 1965. The contribution that Smith made to the world should be recognised."

patrick j. mullins

I remember the scene at Marx's grave in 'Morgan'', one of my favourite films. Morgan's mother was there, played by the sublimes Irene Handl. I just looked her up on the IMDb, she was the daughter of a wealthy Austrian banker and an aristocratic Frenchwoman--and amazing in this part.


Jodi, Stephen Jay Gould's account of Marx's funeral is a quick read:


He's more interested in why Ray Lankester was there, but gives an account of the proceedings, which can be read here:


I'll try and find the footnote about Spencer -- whose funeral was well-attended, despite the mild disrepute into which his thought had fallen -- but one aspect of this competitiveness is that the reason all these atheists are crowded together is because that bit of Highgate isn't consecrated ground, so it's where all the heathens go.

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