[OPE-L] Grundrisse. Help

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sun Jul 23 2006 - 09:58:27 EDT


What Nicolaus does, is provide an "analytical contents list" based on Marx's
own (which marx compiled in February 1859), but sometimes changed, which is
sometimes helpful, but sometimes reflects more his own interpretation of
what Marx is concerned with (some of the texts to which Marx himself refers,
are missing, i.e. the notebooks were never found).

I think the CW edition is often better English, but just as with the Pelican
edition, sometimes concepts are misinterpreted given the wrong name. I do
not have the CW edition handy here, so that I can give examples though.

Insofar as we are talking about draft manuscripts, I think I'd personally
prefer to see them arranged in the real order they were written. The
annotations of the CW edition and Pelican edition are sometimes different. I
am not sure that the CW edition is necessarily "qualitatively better", the
differences are not so great as far as I remember.

My experience with students of these kinds of texts is that it doesn't
matter so much, what English translation you use, people will get the point
anyway if they try. But a scholar wants to get very precise, very exact. Yet
in that case, you should really read the original German, and one solution
would be to print the German and English text side by side.

The real advantage of the MEGA 2 is that you get both the original text,
plus good scholarly annotation of it, whereas usually people publishing Marx
have tried to present him according to their own biases.

Actually, Nicolaus is often not so "literal" as he claims, and sometimes he
becomes a bit obscure. For an example:

Marx: "Dem einzelnen Individuum gegenuber erscheint naturlich die
Distribution als ein gesellschaftliches Gesetz, das seine Stellung innerhalb
der Produktion bedingt, innerhalb deren es produziert, die also der
Produktion vorausgeht. Das Individuum hat von Haus aus kein kapital, kein
Grundeigentum. Es ist von Geburt auf die Lohnarbeit angewiesen durch
diegesellschaftige Distribution. Aber dies Angewiesensein selbst ist das
Resultat, dass Kapital, Grundeigentum als selbstandige Produktionsagenten
existieren." (Grundrisse, EVA Verlag, p. 17).

Nicolaus: "To the single individual, of course, distribution appears as a
social law which determines his position within the system of production
within which he produces, and which therefore precedes production. The
individual comes into the world possessing neither capital or land. Social
distribution assigns him at birth to wage labour. But this situation of
being assigned is itself a consequence of the existence of capital and
landed property as independent agents of production." (Nicolaus edition, p.

Alternative translation: "To the single individual facing it, distribution
obviously appears as a social law, which defines his place in the production
process within which he produces, and which thus precedes production. From
the outset the individual has no capital, and owns no land. He is from birth
made dependent on wage labour by social distribution. But this dependency
itself is the result of the fact that capital and landed property exist as
independent agents of production."

As you can see, the differences are slight and the basic meaning remains
much the same. Nevertheless the translator has to invent something beyond a
literal rendering to make it credible English. Nicolaus has e.g. decided to
translate "Angewiesensein" as the "situation of being assigned" but it could
also be translated as "depending upon" in the sense of "being forced to
resort to/rely upon". Marx does not specifically say "The individual comes
into the world possessing neither capital or land", he says "From the outset
the individual has no capital, and owns no land". But the general point
remains the same, whatever the nuances.


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