Pierre Galissaire & André Sauge’s Preliminary Note

A Preliminary Note


Johann Kaspar Schmidt (1806-1856), known by his pen-name Max Stirner (so-called by his friends because of his large forehead – which in German is “Stirn”), is a man of a single work: “The Ego and His Own.” Among the numerous articles that his biographer John Henry Mackay (cf. “Max Stirner, Sein Leben und sein Werk,” 2nd edition, Berlin 1910) believes can be attributed to him, it is difficult to recognize with certainty the mark of Stirner. One can admit, however, that he was in 1842 a correspondent for the “Rheinische Zeitung,” founded that same year by the young Marx, and for the “Leipziger Allgemeine Zeitung.” The first work signed by “Stirner” was a glowing report of Bruno Bauer’s book “The Trumpet of the Last Judgment Against Hegel, Atheism and the Anti-Christ. An Ultimatum,” which appeared in January, 1842 in the “Telegraph fŸr Deutschland.” Around the same time he published a pamphlet entitled “Call from a Member of the Berlin Community.” This pamphlet was suppressed on February 3, 1842 due to attacks from the Berlin clergy.

But it was in an article published in April 1842 in the “Rheinische Zeitung” entitled “The False Principles of Our Education” that one finds for the first time the true voice of Stirner. This question of education must have had for the author (who, by his studies, was destined for a career of teaching) a great importance, since the subject of one of his dissertations written in 1833 for his “Examen pro facultate docendi” already centered on the topic of education. In June 1842 in the same paper, and still under the pseudonym of “Stirner,” appeared “Art and Religion” and, a month later, a review of “Kšnigsberger Skizzen” by K. Rosenkranz. In 1844, in the first and only issue of “Berliner Monatsschrift,” two articles appeared under his by-lines: one by “Stirner” and the other by “Max Schmidt” (apparently a combination of name and pen-name). The former article was entitled “Provisional Remarks on the Subject of the State Founded on Love” while the latter piece concerned a long discussion of Eugne Sue’s book “Mysteries of Paris.”

In November 1844 appeared (with the published date 1845) “The Ego and His Own.” The book, which was not suppressed by the censors (“too absurd to be dangerous,” according to the Interior Minister), had a very lively, though brief, success. By autumn 1845, in Wigand’s “Vierteljahrsschrift,” Max Stirner could reply to his three most important critics: Szeliga, Ludwig Feuerbach and Moses Hess. In 1847, in “Epigonen,” appeared a reply to the criticism by a young university student, Kuno Fischer – but both the signature (G. Edward) and the style cast doubt on the authenticity of the article.

From here on, nothing more was published with Stirner’s vigorous writing style. From 1845 to 1847 he undertook the translations of economic works (Jean-Baptiste Say and Adam Smith); finally, in 1852, he published a “History of the Reaction,” which was nothing more than a compilation of borrowed texts, from Auguste Comte to Edmund Burke. Mackay was able to establish that in 1848 Stirner was a correspondent of the newspaper “Journal des oesterreichischen Lloyd.” However, none of the articles reflect either the tone or the ideas of “Der Einzige.”

Considering the dubious authenticity of most of the sources claimed by Mackay to be the works of Stirner in his “Max Stirner’s Kleinere Schriften,” (2nd edition, Berlin, 1914) we thought it fit to print only those texts which are undoubtedly from the pen of Stirner and which contribute to the understanding of his fundamental ideas. We have, therefore, left aside all the reviews and chronicles which attest more to his journalistic talent than to the originality of his thought.