[OPE-L:5344] RE: mega-questions

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 09:35:53 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

I can almost answer Jerry's questions in ope-l 5343. I'm getting most of my
information from a paper by Rolf Hecker, who was an editor of the New MEGA
(MEGA2) for many years and is an editor of the journal _Beitraege zur
Marx-Engels-Forschung (Neue Folge)_.

a) how many volumes of the MEGA have already been published?

As of May 1991, 45. Work has of course slowed down considerably since then.
I *think* 2 more volumes have come out since. Don't quote the last figure,

b) how many volumes remain to be published?

Hard to say. Publicly the original estimate was about 100 vols. total, but
this, according to Hecker, was a deliberate understatement. The people
involved didn't want to say "at least 130 volumes," which was their actual
projection. The Stalinist Party was none too enthusiastic about the New MEGA
in any case (Khrushchev waited EIGHT years, from '56 to '64, before okaying
the project). The New MEGA workers, according to Hecker, who were dedicated
to the principle of a *complete* MEGA, thought it best to keep the information
concerning the size of the New MEGA to themselves.

c) what is the schedule for publishing the remaining volumes?

This is anybody's guess. Of course, since 1991, the biggest problem has
become financial. Before 1991, volumes were coming out at a rate of 2-3 per
year. At a rate of 2.5 per year, if we figure 90 more volumes remain beyond
those 45, that would make 36 years beyond 1991, i.e., 30 years from today.
But of course, since 1991, by far the biggest problem has become financial.
Nothing short of a revolution in some major country will allow it to be
completed within our lifetimes. Thus it is extremely important that the New
MEGA workers have not abandoned the perspective of a *complete* MEGA.

d) why the English-language edition of the _Collected Works_ doesn't
follow the MEGA more closely?

The CW is not intended as a scholarly, critical edition. It is based on the
_Werke_ of 1956-68.

e) what will _not_ be incorporated into the _CW_ that is (or will be)
published in MEGA?

Everything!! This mostly has to do with the difference between an edition of
someone's "works" and a *Gesamtausgabe* ("complete edition"), which is not
limited to their works. Hecker writes, "it is particularly important to
emphasize the following principles of the new MEGA: absolute completeness
(including the excerpts, notebooks, and the letters of third parties to Marx
and Engels); strict preservation of the chronological arrangement; the most
up-to-date presentation of variants; exact reproduction of the original text
(including the preservation of contemporary orthography); and extensive

He also notes that Stalinist Party ideology led to the suppression of some
material from the _Werke_ and to the violation of chronological ordering: for
instance, the 1844 mss. were removed from the chronological arrangement and
only published later in a supplementary volume. Kevin Anderson notes that
even the original MEGA was not intended to be complete, since Ryazanov
rejected the idea of publishing all of Marx's excerpt-notebooks.

A lot of stuff may shake up people's conceptions of who Marx was. For
instance, there's an 1850's notebook with 50 pages on women!

f) what the current price of MEGA volumes are?

Don't know. Actually, I forgot. I think about $100 each, but don't quote

Andrew Kliman