Marx’s own advice on reading ‘Capital’

February 2023 Forums General discussion Marx’s own advice on reading ‘Capital’

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  • #232276
    DJP
    Participant

    I once read, or read about, some advice that Marx wrote in a letter to a correspondent about reading ‘Capital’. I think the advice was to start near the back first then read the first three sections later. I’ve not been able to relocate this letter or reference to it anywhere. Anybody know what I’m talking about and where I could find it, or a reference to it?

    #232277
    Lew
    Participant
    #232278
    DJP
    Participant

    Thanks. That’s exactly what I was looking for.

    #232287
    DJP
    Participant

    The letter mentioned in the review can be read online here:
    https://marxists.architexturez.net/archive/marx/works/1867/letters/67_11_30b.htm

    #232296

    There is no such letter by or from Marx. This was the advice of Althusser, who disagreed with the dialectical analysis in section 1 and suggested reading the historical material first.

    #232318
    DJP
    Participant

    “There is no such letter by or from Marx.”

    Strange thing to say, especially seeing as the link to the letter that was published in MECW is above.

    Marx says that “the most immediately readable” sections of Capital are “the chapters on the ‘Working Day’, ‘Co-operation, Division of Labour and Machinery’ and finally on ‘Primitive Accumulation’”. But that’s different to saying that *everyone* should read those chapters first or that this is “the best” way to read the book.

    #232327
    DJP
    Participant

    Here’s the full relevant part of the other letter from MECW volume 45, page 212.

    To Mrs Wollmann (19 March 1877) Marx wrote:

    “Should you wish to leaf through some of Capital, it would be best to start with the last section, p. 314. In the scientific exposition the arrangement is prescribed for the author, although some other arrangement might often be more convenient and more appropriate for the reader.”

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