A specter is haunting Europe in 2018 – to borrow from one of its most eye-catching one-liners – the specter of Karl Marx himself.

Two hundred years after the philosopher’s birth, a small industry is accelerating, from plans for major events in Trier, the town in the Mosel where he was born, to a new tour of the streets of Manchester that he and Friedrich Engels walked discussing the condition of the city’s emerging working class. The bicentenary of May 5 will be marked by exhibitions, readings, conferences, stories and novels.

The books are starting to pile up. Last month saw a new edition of Marxism – a graphic guide, a collaboration between philosophy professor Rupert Woodfin and comic book artist Oscar Zárate, while titles from top Marxism scholars are on the way. They include a reprint of literary theorist Terry Eagleton’s best-selling book Why Marx was rightas well as a new edition of The communist manifesto – which begins with the quote “specter” – including an introduction by former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

The Warren Street Murderer by Oxford University historian Marc Mulholland, published at the end of May, promises to tell the story of the villainous Emmanuel Barthélemy (“the man who wanted to kill Marx”).

Marx’s ideas, running through the Russian Revolution to the present day, will be at the center of Marx and Marxism, a new book by one of Britain’s foremost historians of socialism, Gregory Claeys. The influence of the Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn – along with factors such as dwindling job prospects and a desire to defy austerity – are credited by Claeys as having helped spark a renewed interest in Marx, in particular among young people.

Marxism: A Graphic Guide. Photography: book jacket

“Marx’s prose may seem somewhat obtuse to modern readers,” Claeys said. “But Marx’s central premise – that the most obvious and extreme forms of oppression and exploitation can be removed from daily life – retains a robustness and audacity unmatched by any other thinker of the modern period. “

Reality comes with fiction. Marx returnsdue out February 23 and written by Jason Barker, is billed as combining historical fiction, psychological mystery, philosophy and excerpts from the complete works of Marx and Engels to reimagine the life and times of Marx.

Among the plethora of gatherings and conferences organized by the various families of the left, one of the most anticipated is Marx 200, a major conference planned at Soas University in London and organized by the Marx Memorial Library.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell – arguably Britain’s best-known Marxist – will speak on ‘Into the 21st century: Marxism as a force for change today’ alongside guests from around the world including Sitaram Yechury , the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Luo Wendong, professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

John McDonnell.
John McDonnell. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters

Meirian Jump, archivist at the Memorial Library, said interest in Marxism had increased over the past two years, while the number of people attending lectures on Marxism and conducting research in the reading room of the library had grown in recent months.

“In the fall, our room reached its maximum capacity and we had to turn people away for our conferences celebrating 150 years of the publication of Das Capitalsaid Jump. “It was noteworthy that a large number of those queuing outside Maison Marx were young people and students.”

Far from political calls to arms or Marxist musings, exhibitions include the Karl and Eleanor Marx Treasures Gallery, from May to early August at the British Library. The exhibition aims to explore the role that the Reading Room of the British Museum, an institution that preceded the British Library, played in the life and work of Marx and his daughter, a writer and political activist in her own right.

Exhibits will include correspondence from Marx, his family and Friedrich Engels, covering both personal and political matters, as well as rare copies of first editions of Marx’s writings, several of which have been donated to the library. Among these is a copy of the first French translation of Das Capitalsupposed to include annotations by Marx’s hand.

Much to the chagrin of Marxists and staunch Eurosceptics, the staunchly non-Marxist figure of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will open a series of exhibitions in Trier. Visitors will be able to see a new permanent exhibition at the Karl-Marx-Haus and a bronze figure of Marx donated by China.

Those unable to make the trip might instead consider the Marx 200th Anniversary Walking Tour of Manchester, where Engels lived on and off for almost 30 years and was visited by Marx.

“We have been organizing Marx-themed walks for some time. He and Engels were heavy drinkers, so we did one based on the pubs they went to, and there was a great response,” said Ed Glinert of New Manchester Walks.

“You get a real range of people. I took the Chinese consul once, for example. We don’t get too many Americans, though.

As for what Marx would do with it, Claeys claimed he had “a fine, robust sense of humor” and would certainly have laughed at many who have taken his name over the past 150 years.

“He would be, I think, a ‘deep green’ thinker who would advocate sustainable development, an end to planned obsolescence and production based on profit rather than global human needs,” he said.