“MARX WAS ABOVE ALL A REVOLUTIONARY”: VERY SCARCE FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH OF MARX’S MAGNUM OPUS, DAS KAPITAL
MARX, Karl. Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production. London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1887. Two volumes. Octavo, original gilt-stamped burgundy cloth recased. Housed together in a custom clamshell box. $17,000.
First edition in English of the first part of Marx’s landmark Das Kapital, the only part published in his lifetime, containing substantial revisions made by Marx for the first French translation, this two-volume work edited by Engels and translated from the third German edition. A very scarce and important printing of a seminal work in economic and political thought.
Expelled from Paris in 1844, from Brussells in 1848, and from Cologne in 1849, Karl Marx moved to London where, with the loyal financial support of Frederick Engels, he endured hunger, the deaths of three children and his wife's nervous breakdown, spending most of the next two decades in the British Museum, immersed in research for his great historical analysis of capitalism. "Marx himself modestly described Das Kapital as a continuation of his Zur Kritik des Politischen Oekonomie, 1859. It was in fact the summation of his quarter of a century's economic studies… The 'Athenaeum' reviewer of the first English translation (1887) later wrote: 'Under the guise of a critical analysis of capital, Karl Marx's work is principally a polemic against capitalists and the capitalist mode of production, and it is this polemical tone which is its chief charm.' The historical-polemical passages, with their formidable documentation from British official sources, have remained memorable; and, as Marx… wrote to Engels while the volume was still in the press, 'I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles all the rest of their lives.' Carbuncles, financial embarrassment and political preoccupations of many kinds hampered Marx's work on Das Kapital, which he would never have completed but for the material and moral support of Engels…" (PMM 359). "In his funeral eulogy for Karl Marx, Engels concluded that 'Marx was above all a revolutionary… It is doubtful that any figure in history has inspired more violently contradictory opinions than Karl Marx" (Downs, 22). "Only this first part of Marx's magnum opus appeared in his lifetime," with its publication in German in 1867 (PMM 359). The remainder was constructed by Engels from Marx's posthumous papers. Containing Marx's central concept of surplus value, this first edition in English is translated from the third German edition of Moore and Aveling, is edited by Engels and incorporates substantial revisions Marx made for the first French translation (1872-5). Although Engels published the German edition of volume II in 1885, his preface notes that a translation of it without volume III was necessarily incomplete; the German edition of volume III did not appear until 1894. Draper II:M129; ST/M5. Bookplates of Manchester Reform Club with penciled notations.
Interiors very fresh with only a few leaves roughly opened, closed tear to one leaf (I:337) expertly repaired, light expert restoration to original cloth.