Notes on the First French Edition of Capital – I

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes


Marx not only accompanied the French translation of his book, he went much further: he completely rewrote it.

The Editions of Book I of O Capital

There are many editions and translations of Book I d'The capital, the only book of the major work published by Marx during his lifetime. In life, there were four editions and two translations. First and second German, Russian and French editions appeared. The translations, therefore, were two: into Russian and into French. Marx accompanied the Russian translation, the first of all, maintained an active dialogue with his translators and at the end praised it.[I]. In the French translation, he went much further: he completely rewrote it. The fact that it was entirely rewritten by the author himself, as he revised the translation often, gives the work an original character and provides a unique opportunity: to compare versions that have this common quality of originals, using one to illuminate the other or to reveal their distinctions.

If the attribute of originality possessed by the French edition were not enough for it to occupy a place of its own in the Marxian bibliography (it is a work by Marx, not just a translation)[ii], what primarily marks its importance is the fact that, among all the editions of Book I, the French one is the last written by Marx. That is, it is later than the 2nd German edition; the 3rd German is already in Engels' hands and is published shortly after Marx's death, still in 1883; and the 4th, presented by Engels as “the most definitive possible”, appears in 1890. Therefore, the 3rd and 4th German editions are posthumous, with the latter serving as the basis for most foreign editions, including the Brazilian ones.

The chronological summary of the publications of Book I, over the 16 years between its first publication in 1867 and Marx's death in 1883, is as follows:

  • 1st German edition, 1867, with a print run of only a thousand copies, which, according to the French researcher Maximilien Rubel, was expensive by the standards of the time (3,5 thalers, an average of 1 week of work for a worker) and took 5 years to exhaust[iii];
  • 1st Russian edition, March 1872, 3 copies, selling XNUMX in less than two months[iv];
  • 2nd German edition, initially published in 09 fascicles from July 1872 to March 1873 and later in a single body, in May 1873, with a print run of three thousand copies;
  • 1st French edition, first published in 44 fascicles, with eight pages each, sold 5 at a time, from August 1872 to May 1875 and then in a single body with a circulation of ten thousand copies, the largest until that time.

(Cfr. Rubel, 1968, pp. 102 and 106)

It was therefore, among all, the French the last edition published d'The capital in which Marx put his own hands on the work, revising it completely, rewriting it and accompanying its publication step by step.

Engels' Critiques

It was from its French edition that Marx planned to make changes to a 3rd and 4th German editions. He died, however, before he could publish them. It was Engels who took on the task of carrying out the project, taking responsibility for the decisions to incorporate or not the changes made and, if so, also for how to incorporate them.

It so happens, however, that Engels had serious criticisms of the French translation and especially of the plan to use it as a basis for further translations of Book I. These criticisms, by the way, he had already expounded since the publication of the 1st edition, but at that time they had, of course, no effect at the time, since Marx was alive and had the editions under his control. With Marx's death, however, Engels' remaining criticisms began to produce consequences within the work, that is, within the text, as we will see in the next topic.

Let's see the reviews here.

Still in February 1868 (02/02/1868), when they faced difficulties in finding a translator for French, Engels already hinted at his way of conceiving the question when, in a joking tone, he wrote to Marx:

“It really is your fault: if you write strictly dialectically for German science, then later, when it comes to translations, particularly into French, you fall into evil hands” (Engels, 2010a, V. 42, p. 534 )

In another letter, when reading a part of the French translation, Engels shows that his criticism was even more serious: it affronts not only the translation, but also the very French language of those times, which would remove from Marx’s text nothing more than its “vigor and vitality and life.” On November 29, 1873, he admonishes Marx in the following terms:

“Dear Moor, […] Yesterday I read the chapter on factory legislation in the French translation. With all due respect to the skill with which this chapter was translated into elegant French, I still regret what was lost in this beautiful chapter. His vigor and vitality and life went to hell. The chance of an ordinary writer to express himself with a certain elegance was bought by castrating the tongue. It is becoming increasingly impossible to think originally in the straitjacket of modern French. Everything flashy or vital is removed only by the necessity, which has become essential almost everywhere, to bow to the dictates of a pedantic formal logic and to switch phrases around. I think it would be a big mistake to take the French version as a model for the English translation. In English, the expressive power of the original need not be mitigated; whatever must inevitably be sacrificed in genuinely dialectical passages may be compensated for in others by the greater energy and brevity of the English language” (Engels, 2010a, v. 44, pp. 540-541)

Engels' statement is very serious[v]. The French language at the time – and let us remember: the French language at the time was that of Victor Hugo (1802-1885), Balzac (1799-1850) and others – would castrate written expression and, worse, would make original thinking impossible. , putting on a straitjacket, which would end up pushing away what is showy and annihilating what is alive. For all these reasons, the translation into French would result in the sacrifice of the German text, notably in the so-called “genuinely dialectical passages”, which is why other translations would not have to start from the French edition.

Shortly afterwards, without elaborating on the warning given to him, Marx succinctly objected:

“Dear Fred […] now that you are looking at the French translation of Capital, I would be grateful if you could persevere with it. I think you will find that some passages are superior to the German” (Marx, 2010a, v. 44, p. 543)[vi]

In his reply, Engels partially relented, that is, he maintained his disparaging view of the French language, but accepted, for the time being, as better the parts of the French edition that Marx had revised. He then says that passages in French could even be superior, because of Marx's revision, but despite the alleged constraints of the language.

“Dear Moor […] So far I think that what you revised it is indeed better than the German, but neither the German nor the French have anything to do with it” (Engels, 2010a, v. 44, p. 545)

The fact is that the way Engels saw the French edition was so ingrained that it survived Marx's death (March 14, 1883). Let us remember that Engels published the 3rd and 4th German editions of Book I after the author's death. He says, on June 29, 1883:

“The 3rd edition of Capital is generating a tremendous amount of work for me. We have a copy where Marx follows the French edition when indicating the amendments and additions to be made, but all the detailed work remains to be done. I got as far as 'Accumulation', but here it's time to almost completely revise the entire theoretical section. On top of that, there is responsibility. For to some extent the French translation lacks the depth of the German text; Marx would never have written in German in this way” (Engels, 2010a, Vol. 47, p. 42)

Here, it is clear that Engels' partial concession in his epistolary divergence with Marx was isolated, since here Engels once again confirms that the object of his criticism was both the French language of the time and Marx's French edition. They weighed not only on J. Roy, but also on Marx, the shackles of the French language. Now, would the French edition be able to pass unscathed in the face of the defects of a language that would castrate written expression, put a straitjacket on thought and throw down the vigor and vitality and life of the text? Really, based on these premises, there would be no way Engels could accept that the French text had the same depth as the German one.

Not by chance, on June 07, 1893, Engels speculates, about an Italian translation, the following: “A translation only from the French edition would not be perfect, since the Italian suits the author’s philosophical style better” ( Engels, 2010a, V. 50, p. 151)[vii]. Therefore, the French version, elaborated by the same Marx, appears, in the eyes of this third party (even if Engels), less appropriate to the German “philosophical style” of Marx, since in French it does not suit “the philosophical style of the author”. ”.

Engels restated the position he held in letters, also publicly: in the prefaces he published to Book I after Marx's death (Preface to the 3rd German edition, Preface to the English edition, Preface to the 4th German edition). These texts, regarding the aspect analyzed here, are clearly at variance with what Marx himself provided in the Afterword of the 2nd German edition and in the Notice to the Reader of the French edition, made public in life and with precedence (as we will see later).

In Engels' first preface to Book I (the Preface to the 3rd German edition, dated 07 November 1883), he says that the changes he made to the text came from two main sources: an annotated copy of the German edition and an annotated copy of the German edition. French edition. Engels also implies that Marx's indications contained in the aforementioned annotated editions would have been fulfilled not only partially, but in full. Let's see:

“Initially, Marx planned to extensively rework the text of Volume I, more precisely formulate several theoretical points, add new ones, and supplement the historical and statistical material with up-to-date data. His precarious state of health and the eagerness to complete the definitive writing of volume II forced him to give up this plan. Only what was strictly necessary should be modified and only the additions already contained in the French edition incorporated (Le capital. By Karl Marx, Paris, Lachâtre, 1873), published in the meantime.

In the collection, a copy of the German edition was found, corrected by Marx in some parts and with references to the French edition; a copy of the French edition was also found, with precise indications of the passages to be used. These modifications and additions are limited, with few exceptions, to the last part of the book, the section 'The Process of Capital Accumulation'. In this case, the text published so far followed, more than in others, the original plan, while the previous sections had undergone a more profound reworking. The style was, therefore, livelier, more resolute, but also more careless, dotted with anglicisms and, in certain passages, obscure; the course of the exhibition had gaps here and there, as some important points had only been sketched.

As to style, Marx himself had subjected several chapters to careful revision, which, together with frequent orally transmitted directions, gave me the measure of how far I could go in suppressing technical English terms and other Anglicisms. No doubt Marx would have reworked the additions and additions, replacing polished French with his own terse German; I had to content myself with translating them, adjusting them as closely as possible to the original text.

In this third edition, therefore, not a word was changed without my being sure that the author himself would do so” (Marx, 2017, pp. 97-98, my emphasis)

This passage shows that Engels considered the scope of changes in content brought about by the French edition to be limited. He further assumed that, when he went to incorporate the novelties of the French text into the German, Marx would rework these new complements and additions made in the French, just as he would replace his “polished French” with his “concise German”.

Then, in the Preface to the English edition, dated November 05, 1886, Engels tells that:

“It was agreed [with the translator] that I should compare the manuscript with the original work and suggest the alterations that seemed advisable to me [...] The third German edition, on which our work was entirely based, was prepared by me, in 1883 , with the aid of the notes left by the author, in which he indicated the passages from the second edition that should be replaced by certain passages from the French text, published in 1873 [Footnote by Engels: 'Le Capital' par Karl Marx. Translation by MJ Roy, entièrement revisée par l'auteur (Paris, Lachatre). This translation, especially in its last section, contains considerable alterations and additions to the text of the second German edition]. The alterations thus effected in the text of the second edition coincided, in a general way, with the changes prescribed by Marx in a series of handwritten instructions for an English translation which had been planned for publication in America ten years ago, but which had been abandoned chiefly for want of a translator. capable and suitable. This manuscript was made available to us by our old friend, Mr. FA Sorge, of Hoboken, New Jersey. It contains additional indications of excerpts from the French edition to be inserted in the source text of the new translation; however, this manuscript being many years older than the last instructions left by Marx for the third edition, I did not feel authorized to make use of them except on rare occasions, especially when they helped us to overcome difficulties.[viii]. Likewise, the French text was referred to, in most difficult passages, as an indicator of what the author himself was willing to sacrifice, whenever something of the full meaning of the original text had to be sacrificed in the translation” (Marx, 2017, p. 102, emphasis mine)

We see, therefore, the value that Engels attributed to the French edition. The “considerable alterations and additions”, recognized by Engels in the footnote, have their usefulness indicated in the body of the text: to demonstrate to what extent the translation could sacrifice “something of the integral meaning of the original text”. Now, this is what is being said: i) that the French edition would be useful to indicate a limit to the renunciation of the meaning of the “original text” by the translation, so that the latter would evidently not have the same stature as that one; ii) that Engels does not treat the French edition as an “original text” of Marx, but as a mere translation. This stance of Engels follows his own antecedent epistolary critiques; she thus remained contrary to what was positively said by the author, both in the letters and publicly in the French edition itself, especially in its Notice to the Reader (as we shall see).

The impression, mentioned earlier, that the execution of the recommendations contained in the copies annotated by Marx had been exhausted in the 3rd German edition is dispelled in the Preface of the 4th German edition, dated June 25, 1890. In fact, Engels reveals that renewed consultations with edits annotated by the author himself led to further additions. Let's see:

“The fourth edition required the most definitive configuration possible, both of the text and the notes. Here are a few words about how I responded to that demand.

After renewed consultation with the French edition and with Marx's handwritten notes, I have inserted in the German text some additions taken from the first [i.e., French edition]. They are found on p.130 (3rd ed., p. 88), p. 517-19 (3rd ed., p. 509-10), p. 610-13 (3rd ed., p. 600), p. 655-7 (3rd ed., p. 644) and in note 79 on p. 660 (3rd ed., p. 648). Likewise, following the precedents of the French and English editions, I have added to the text (4th ed., p. 519-25) the long note on mine workers (3rd ed., p. 509-15). The other modifications, of minor importance, are of a purely technical nature” (Marx, 2017, p. 105, emphasis added)

As can be seen, in the so-called “most definitive configuration possible” of the work, Engels made no mention, as in his other prefaces, of the independent scientific value of the original attributed by Marx (as we shall see), in a public way, precisely to the edition French (Marx, 1872/1875 and 2018, p. 348); nor did he even mention the author's express recommendation to German-speaking readers to consult the French edition (we'll see later).

Therefore, this approach by Engels ended up significantly leaving out of the posthumous editions a number of new formulations that Marx not only thought of, but which he put with his own hands in the very text of the French edition. The editors of MEGA²[ix], points out researcher Kevin Anderson, gathered parts left out by Engels in the 4th German edition in an annex of 50 (fifty) pages in the critical apparatus of the work (Anderson, 2019, p. 260). Even passages that Marx had expressly indicated should be inserted in a next edition were not included by Engels in the following German editions (Anderson, 2019, p. 264), notably in the fourth, which he qualified, it is important to repeat, as “the most definitively possible” (Engels in Marx, 2017, p. 105). As the German researcher Michael Heinrich says:

“Volume 1, in the most widespread fourth edition of 1890, is a mixture of the second German edition of 1872 with the French edition of 1872-1875. Engels included some of the changes from the French translation, but not all, with the result that Volume 1 now exists in a form Marx never knew” (Heinrich, 2018, p. 21, my emphasis)[X]

Thus, that the intentions were the best is something that is not in doubt, but the case here is that of an editor who ended up appropriating the work as if it were the author. If Engels, in the preface to Book II d'The capital had emphasized that it was a work “exclusively of the author and not of the publisher”[xi], himself, when dealing with the French edition of Book I, did not proceed coherently. Engels' inappropriate treatment of the French edition is emphatically accused by Kevin Anderson, who asserts:

“The most generous thing that could be said about Engels' edition of Book I of The capital is that he left us with an incomplete edition presented as a definitive version. Nevertheless, in the preface to the 4th German edition of 1890, he writes that he had established 'as definitive a configuration as possible both of the text and of the notes'. Despite this, Engels left out Marx's preface and postscript to the French edition [...] A more scathing critique of Engels could be made [...] based on the notion that Marx wanted the French edition to be the standard for and subsequent translations” (Anderson, 2019, p. 265) [This] “is part of a larger problem: separating Marx’s work from post-Marxist Marxists, starting with Engels[xii]” (Anderson, 2019, p. 136).

Examples of changes

Let us see, by way of illustration, a concise selection of changes made by Marx in the French translation that were not reproduced in the later German ones by Engels. References to excerpts from this 4th German edition will be made according to the translation by Rubens Enderle published by Boitempo.

It costs nothing to notice the first change, as it is in the title. In all editions prior to the French one, the work is entitled Capital – Critique of Political Economy. Critique of political economy is thus the subtitle of the 1st German edition, the 2nd German edition and the first Russian edition (Rubel, 1968, p. 102). This subtitle was retained by Engels in the third and fourth German editions. Already in the first edition in the English language, made by Engels in 1886, it was greatly modified; title and subtitle thus remained: “Capital. A critical analysis of capitalist production” (Marx, 1990, p. 03); as you can see, the political economy went out and entered a analysis and capitalist production, still becoming the review an attribute of analysis. What about the French edition? In the French edition the subtitle was deleted by Marx; the work received, of all versions, the most concise title: “O Capital”. Thus, the difference already starts with the cover, and jumps to the eye.

An ideal hypothesis to explain this suppression of Marx is that he did not intend for his work to appear to be a critique only of a theoretical body, of a set of ideas, since it was a critique of a certain mode of production of material life: the capitalist mode of production. In other words, he would not intend it to be a critique limited to the “discipline” of political economy, but of social life itself under the rule of capital.

The structure of the text was also completely reformed by Marx. There are changes in the layout of the chapters and sections, in the paragraphing (generally more reduced), in the periods (several times divided, other times reunited). As for the content, there are countless additions and reworkings, and sometimes even subtractions. In short, in form and content (so to speak) there are additions, subtractions, divisions and transformations.

Let's look at the change in the division of chapters and sections. In the German edition there are 7 sections divided into 25 chapters; in the French, 8 sections, in 33 chapters.

It was chapters 4 and 24 of the German edition that had their layout changed. In German, Chapter IV: The Transformation of Money into Capital it is divided into three items: 1. The general formula of capital, 2. Contradictions of the general formula, 3. The buying and selling of labor power. In French, each of the items became a chapter, chapters IV, V and VI. What was one became three. The same procedure was applied in Chapter XXIV (The so-called primitive accumulation), converting each of its items into its own chapters. What was one became seven.

In the division of sections, there are seven for the German and eight for the French. The change occurred in the seventh and last section of the German edition (The process of capital accumulation), divided into two in French (the seventh, Capital Accumulation, and the eighth, The Primitive Accumulation).

This is about the arrangement of chapters and sections. With regard to the content of the text, we will see a change in the Preface – which was observed and had its repercussions examined by Kevin Anderson (2019, p. 267) – another in the chapter on the work process and later on a deletion.

In the Preface of the 1st German edition, Marx wrote: “The most industrially developed country does nothing more than show the least developed the image of its own future” (Marx, 2017, p. 78, my emphasis). Marx modified the text even of the Preface of the 1st German edition, and this passage received an important alteration, thus remaining its final wording in the French edition: “The most industrially developed country does nothing but show those who follow it in the industrial climb the image of its own becoming” (Marx, 1872/1875 and 2018, p. 10). Engels neither incorporated nor hinted at this change.

A second change is in item 1, The Work Process, from the fifth chapter, Work Process and Valuation Process (which, notice the difference, in the French edition it is located in item I, Production of Use Values, from the seventh chapter, Production of Use Values ​​and Production of Surplus Value[xiii]). In the German one, when listing the three “simple moments” (“simple elements” in the French edition) of the work process (which are work, means of work and object of work), Marx said that work is “an activity oriented towards an end , or the work itself” (Marx, 2017, pp. 255/256). In the French edition Marx says: “personal activity of man, or work itself” (Marx, 1872/1875 and 2018, pp. 76 and 77). Another change neither incorporated nor indicated by Engels.

The last change that we will indicate is the deletion (already noted by Maximilien Rubel) that Marx made of a well-known passage from the German edition, which consists of a digression on the formal and real subsumption of labor and industry to capital, on the extraction of surplus-value in hybrid forms and on the appearance of identity between absolute and relative methods of surplus-value production. This passage of about 40 lines was therefore excluded from Chapter XVI, Absolute Surplus Value and Relative Surplus Value, of Section V, New investigations on the production of surplus value, of the French edition (in the following corresponding topic: Chapter XIV, Plus-Absolute and relative value, of Section V,The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus Value, from the 4th German edition). In the aforementioned Brazilian edition, the deletion ranges from “It [Marx deals with the production of relative surplus value] therefore presupposes a specifically capitalist mode of production […]” to “this appearance of identity [between surplus value and absolute and relative]”, amounting to about a full page of text[xiv] (cf. Marx, 2017, pp. 578/579; Marx, 1872/1875 and 2018, p. 220; Rubel in Marx, 2008, p. 1007).

Thus, the changes start from the title and spread across topics, chapters and sections, flowingly covering the entire text.[xv].

*Rodrigo Maiolini Rebello Pinho Master in History from PUC/SP.



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VOLLGRAF, Carl-Erich. “Marx'sFurtherWorkonCapitalafterPublishing Volume I: OnthecompletionsofPartIIoftheMEGA². In: VAN DER LINDEN, Marcel; HUBMANN, Gerald (ed.). Marx's Capital- An Unfinished Project?. Leiden: Brill, 2018.


[I] Regarding the Russian translation, see the following letters: Marx-Engels, 04/10/1868 (Marx, 2010a, V.43, pp. 120-122), Marx-Danielson (includes a brief autobiography of Marx), 07/10 /1868 (Id., Ibid., pp. 123-125), Marx-Kugelmann, 12/10/1868 (Id., Ibid., p. 130), Marx-Danielson, 13/06/1871 (Marx, 2010a , v. 44, pp. 152-153), Marx-Danielson, 09/11/1871 (Id., Ibid., pp. 238-240), Marx-César De Paepe, 24/11/1871 (Id., Ibid., pp. 262-264), Marx-Laura and Paul Lafargue, 24/11/1871 (Id., Ibid., p. 265). An overview of the translation, dissemination and impact of the work on the theoretical debate in Russia (where the other books of the work were also first translated) can be found in Albert Resis, “Das Kapital comes to Russia” (1970), which also characterizes the local socio-economic situation in which the work was launched and absorbed.

[ii]Bouffard, Feron and Fondu, organizers of the recent publication of a facsimile edition of the 1st French (Marx, 2018), are critical of what they call the “Roy version” (we will see that, in fact, it is a marx version), but they do not fail to recognize that “the first French translation of Capital” constitutes “an original version of Marx’s text” that “does not correspond exactly to any of the four German editions published between 1867 and 1890” (2018, p.11) . Not by chance, they titled one of their articles “The French edition of Capital, an original work” (2018, p. 07). It is worth remembering that there are others with an unfavorable opinion of the first French edition. This is the case of the French translator Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, the philosopher Jacques D'Hondt and the sociologist William Outhwaite (Professor Emeritus at the University of Newcastle). On the other hand, in accordance with what is intended to be demonstrated in this article, there is for example (each in his own way, of course) Kevin B. Anderson (Professor at the University of California), Jorge Grespan (Professor at the University of São Paulo and editor of new Brazilian editions ofThe capital), Regina Roth, Carl-Erich Vollgraf, TimmGraßmann(the last three co-editors of the MEGA²in the publication of editions and manuscripts of O Capital), Marcello Musto (Professor at the University of Toronto), Michael Heinrich (Marx's biographer and also a contributor to MEGA²) and the French philosopher JaqcuesBidet. Bidet, by the way, manifests an open preference for the French edition and indicates that Marx even, in this edition, in a certain way cleaned the text of Hegelian categories, would have, so to speak, 'de-Hegelianized' Book I. very interesting hypothesis to investigate further. Finally,I want to thank Prof. Outhwaite who, in an example of scientific solidarity, kindly sent me his articles on the matter under consideration.

[iii]  An interesting story about this edition: Marx said that the success in publicizing the work would, in principle, result more from the excitement generated around it than from any critical readings, which would take more time. Engels then suggested that, under pseudonyms or anonymously, they publish reviews of the book in newspapers, but in a critical tone, from a bourgeois or reactionary point of view. Marx indicated to Kugelman and Engels, executors of the task, the content of the criticisms to be made: that they write that the author of the work carried out a beautiful objective analysis, but that the conclusions he drew from it were fanciful and biased (Rubel, 1968 , pp. 104/107).

[iv] Now, one about the Russian edition: the censors allowed the work to be published because they were convinced that it would not be intellectually accessible to the people, censoring only the publication of the author's portrait (Marx, V. 44, pp. 398-400 and 578, eg).

[v] The idea that a language can put a straitjacket on thought, interdicting it, blocking its development, is in Engels, as you can see. It is not, however, in Marx. Let us remember, by the way, a passage from Marx, in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852), in which he attributes the possibility of expressing oneself in a free or original way in a language much more to the subject who consciously appropriates it than to inherent properties of the language itself: “…a person who has just learned a new language he usually retranslates it all the time into his mother tongue; he, however, will only succeed in appropriating the spirit of the new language and will only be able to express himself freely with its help when he starts to move within its scope without reminiscences of the past and when, in its use, he forgets the native language ” (Marx, 2011, p. 26).

[vi] Let us remember that Marx had been writing in French for a long time: this is the case, for example, of Poverty of Philosophy. Reply to Mr. Proudhon (1847) and the Speech on the issue of free trade (1848). Later, he also started to write in English, as is the case with Civil War in France (1871) and hundreds of newspaper articles.

[vii] Not much later, however, on July 12 of the same year, 1893, in front of a manuscript with the translation of the work, Engels, in a contradictory way, but maintaining his negative appreciation of the French language (which would present less freedom of movement than the Italian), states: “I compared some passages, particularly from the first and penultimate chapters (general tendency of capitalist accumulation). As you say, it is translated entirely from the French text, which continues to be more popular than the German one. The passages I compared were translated reasonably accurately, which is not too difficult given the two languages ​​are very closely related and the greater freedom of movement afforded by Italian compared to French” (Engels, 2010a, V. 50 , p. 161). The observation that it is easier to carry out an accurate translation when working with closely related languages ​​must be highlighted, as Marx will say something similar when dealing with Romance languages ​​(we will see later). This consideration, by the way, once applicable to the translation from French into Italian, can be extended to Portuguese, since they all derive from the same trunk. Note also the observation that the French edition of Marx was more popular than the German edition edited by Engels.

[viii] He had already said the same in a letter to Sorge, on April 29, 1886 (Engels, 2010a, Vol. 47, p. 439).

[ix] This is the undertaking that aims to publish the original versions of the complete works of Marx and Engels, which includes the different editions ofThe capital. On MEGA, see Heinrich (2018) and Anderson (2019, pp. 357-365).

[X] As Michael Heinrich reminds us, what there are are “different textual documents”, and “Deciding which variant of a text is better is not an editorial task, but an interpretative one…” (Heinrich, 2018, p. 19). Indeed, it is fundamental to separate the tasks of the editor and the interpreter from each other and those of both in relation to the author's own terrain. If there is more than one edition of the work, as is the case, an eventual preference for one of them may even occur to the interpreter, but this, although possible and legitimate, is by no means necessary. Indeed, why would it be necessary to prefer one over the other or decide which would be the best of them, if the combination and reciprocal enlightenment can be more fruitful? Well, this is not a choice like Paris's... Now, what really shouldn't happen is the editor letting his own preferences and interpretative choices slide from his head into the text, because then the different roles end up getting confused, everything to imply an improper and silent metamorphosis from editor to author.

[xi] “It was an arduous task to prepare the second book for printing.The capital, so that it remains a coherent work and as finished as possible, and, moreover, the exclusive work of the author and not of the editor” (Engels in Marx, 1970, p. 01).

[xii] If one should not adopt a posture of reverential fear, closing one's eyes to possible improprieties, it is also not the case to direct a Manichean look at the situation, pointing to Engels as the “'bad guy'” from the editorial history of Capital (Grespan, 2018, p. 55). It was Engels who made the publication of the other books of the work possible (gathering and editing thousands of handwritten sheets), which he carried out with enormous effort and personal sacrifice, including his own works. Rather, it is a matter of distinguishing Engels from Marx, of considering that when one is said about one it is not always that one is said about the other and that they are thus not “the same person”, they do not conform to “a single entity” (Anderson ,1983, p. 79).

[xiii] When we start from the French edition of Marx, it is the term added value what we use At Encyclopedia, the entry “valia” reads like this: “VALIA, sf (Gram. &Jurisprud.) is the same thing as value; but this term is usual only when saying the most-value, love us-value; more-value it is what the thing is worth more than it was estimated or sold; love us-value is what it is worth less…” (entry by Antoine-Gaspard Boucher d'Argis, consulted in In Bluteau, a possible meaning of “value” is also economic (, all thus contributing to endorse the use of the term added value. Without neglecting to take into account the different appreciation that author and editor had for the French edition, Grespan makes a thoughtful balance of the translation of this central category in Marx's thought:

“First, I will comment on the importance of the disagreement between Marx and Engels over the 1872 French edition of the Capital Volume I. As Roth mentioned, Marx wanted the French translation to be used as a basis for translations into all other languages ​​and therefore put a lot of effort into its careful revision, even rewriting some parts, or writing new ones. This is very important nowadays, when new editions of the Capital propose to change traditional translations of key concepts, such as 'surplus-value'' [Grespan's text is originally in English].

It is well known that, until the 1970s, there was little dispute in France about using Joseph Roy's translation, which was revised and authorized by Marx himself. However, the new translation coordinated by Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, published by Edições Sociais in 1983, recommended replacing 'plus-value' with goodwill as the best equivalent for German added Value, in order to keep the root valeur the same as in german Value. This, in turn, inspired Pedro Scaron, the new translator of the Capital into Spanish, to replace the old capital gain by plusvalue (in the Mexican edition published by Siglo XXI). And the new third translation of the Capital in Brazil also prefers surplus value à added value. Marx, however, left the expression capital gain in the first French edition. It was correctly translated as value, not how value, in Spanish and Portuguese, indicating that the issue was not as decisive as the new translators claim” (Grespan, 2018, p. 49).

[xiv] The entirety of the deleted section follows: “It presupposes, therefore, a specifically capitalist mode of production, which, with its own methods, means and conditions, only arises and develops naturally on the basis of the formal subsumption of labor under capital. The place of the formal subsumption of labor under capital is taken by its real subsumption.

Here, a simple allusion to hybrid forms is enough, in which the surplus value is not extracted from the producer by direct coercion and which also do not present the formal subordination of the producer to capital. In these cases, capital has not yet directly taken over the labor process. Alongside the independent producers, who carry out their handicrafts or cultivate the land in a traditional, patriarchal way, there appears the usurer or the merchant, the usurer or commercial capital, which parasitically sucks them in. The predominance of this form of exploitation in a society excludes the capitalist mode of production, at the same time that, as in the Late Middle Ages, it can serve as a transition to it. Finally, as the example of modern housework shows, certain hybrid forms are reproduced here and there in the rear of big industry, even if with a completely altered physiognomy.

If, on the one hand, for the production of absolute surplus value, the merely formal subsumption of labor under capital is sufficient – ​​for example, that artisans who previously worked for themselves or as officers of a guildmaster start to act as salaried workers under the direct control of the capitalist – we have seen, on the other hand, that the methods for the production of relative surplus-value are at the same time methods for the production of absolute surplus-value. Even more, the unmeasured length of the working day is shown to be the most genuine product of large-scale industry. In general, as soon as it takes hold of one branch of production – and even more so when it takes hold of all the decisive branches of production – the specifically capitalist mode of production ceases to be a mere means for the production of relative surplus value. . It now becomes the general, socially dominant form of the production process. As a particular method for the production of relative surplus value, it operates: first, by taking over industries that until then were only formally subordinated to capital; that is, it acts in its propagation; secondly, insofar as changes in production methods continually revolutionize industries already within its sphere of action.

Seen from a certain angle, any difference between absolute surplus-value and relative surplus-value seems illusory. Relative surplus-value is absolute, as it conditions an absolute extension of the working day beyond the working time necessary for the existence of the worker himself. Absolute surplus value is relative, as it conditions a development of labor productivity that makes it possible to limit the necessary working time to a part of the working day. But when we observe the movement of surplus value, this appearance of identity disappears” (Marx, 2017, p. 578/579).

[xv] Other modifications to the text are indicated and have their profound theoretical repercussions examined, among others, by Kevin Anderson and by Regina Roth (who also addresses some of Engels' editorial interventions that focused on the content of the text of the other books of the work).

[xvi] The translation of the excerpts I extracted from the works referred to in a foreign language in this bibliography is mine (eg The capital, Marx & Engels Collected Works etc).

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