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MARX, Karl.

Le Capital.

Traduction de M. J. Roy, entièrement revisée par l'auteur.

Paris: Éditeurs, Maurice Lachatre et Cie, [1872-5] Stock Code: 135070
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The definitive text

First edition in French of the first volume of Das Kapital, the definitive text as authorized by Karl Marx, this being the first issue with Lachâtre's imprint. The book was published in parts from August 1872 to November 1875, here bound on completion. The first volume of Das Kapital was originally published in German in 1867. This French edition was the second translation, preceded only by the Russian translation of 1872, but Marx felt that this translation was more important than the Russian, and his extensive work on the project means "Le Capital was not a mere translation, but rather an original work, relevant from a textual point of view" (Books that Made Europe, p. 248). The second and third volumes of Das Kapital were published after Marx's death by Engels in 1885 and 1894, and were first published in French in 1900 and 1902.

In December 1871, while revising the text for the second German edition, Marx agreed to this French edition with the publisher Maurice Lachâtre, an anticlerical radical and friend of Proudhon, who had been exiled to Spain after the Paris Commune. Marx initially approved the translation to be undertaken by Joseph Roy, who had already translated the works of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, but "in spite of the expectations, however, Roy did not render the text vivid enough and the translation proved to be too literal and unsatisfactory. At the beginning of Spring 1872, Marx started to re-write full passages to make them more appealing to the French public and continued to do so for almost two years, eating up a lot of the time intended for the drafting of his second volume of the work" (Books That Made Europe, p. 248). Issued in parts and consuming much of Marx's time, it took 39 months to complete the project, but Marx's close attention and extensive revisions to the text and galley proofs as the project progressed resulted in a revised text that he felt was more definitive than the German and Russian predecessors (including the second German edition of 1872). In his notice to the reader dated 28 April 1875, Marx wrote: "Quelles que soient les imperfections littéraires de cette édition française, elle possède une valeur scientifique indépendante de l'original et doit être consultée même par les lecteurs familiers avec la langue allemande" (p. 348: "Whatever the literary imperfections of this French edition, it has a scientific value independent of the original and must be consulted even by readers familiar with the German language"). The format of the book was also changed, divided into eight parts and 33 chapters rather than the seven parts and 25 chapters of the second German edition. Marx recommended this French text, with its revisions and new theoretical reflections, for future translations and editions, and it was used for the first English translation of 1887 and thereafter.

From certain indications found in the correspondence of Marx, it seems likely that the French government, who must have frowned upon the appearance of Das Kapital in French, tried to prevent its publication, which for a certain time was interrupted by the authorities. When the publication was finally completed, rumours abounded that its sale was to be forbidden and the publisher Lachâtre hesitated to sell copies. Unsold sheets were later reissued with the imprint of Librairie du Progrès, with new preliminary pages removing Lachâtre's name, between 1878 and 1880; this first issue is therefore distinguished by the presence of his imprint.

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Folio (281 x 192 mm). Contemporary black quarter calf, spine lettered in gilt, black cloth sides, green endpapers. Housed in a custom blue card slipcase, red morocco label to spine.


2 vignette title pages, 1 engraved portrait frontispiece with facsimile autograph, facsimile autograph letter from Marx to the publisher, dated 18 March 1872, with Lachâtre's printed reply to verso, engraved head- and tailpieces.


Expertly refurbished with discreet repair to foot of spine, joints, and tips. Short closed tear at fore edge of first vignette title page and gutter of title page, toning and foxing to contents as often, running light dampstain at foot throughout first 175 pages and at head from pp. 281 to 288, short closed tear to pp. 319/320 very slightly impinging on text, some creasing at fore edge of pages, chipping and creasing at edges of final few leaves without loss to text. A good copy.


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