Saturday, November 03, 2007

Leopold, David. "Introduction." THE YOUNG KARL MARX. Cambridge: CUP, 2007.

Not everyone has been similarly beguiled by these early writings. They certainly failed to attract much attention from Marx’s own contemporaries. Several of the most important of these texts, including the Kritik and the Manuskripte, were not written for publication, and their existence was discovered only after Marx’s death. Other works were published at the time, but in radical periodicals with small and uncertain circulations. Marx’s article ‘Zur Judenfrage’, for example, was published in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, a journal of which only one (double) edition ever appeared, in a print-run of one thousand copies of which some eight hundred seem to have been seized by the authorities. At the time, none of these published works attracted either popular or critical acclaim on any scale. The only writings from the early 1840s which were subsequently reprinted during Marx’s lifetime were two pieces of his earliest journalism, which pre-date the early writings as defined here (a somewhat narrow definition elaborated below). These two articles on contemporary German conditions – a comment on the latest Prussian censorship instructions, and a report of the debate concerning freedom of the press in the Sixth Rhineland Diet (both written in 1842) – were reprinted by Hermann Becker under the seemingly inflated title Gesammelte Aufsätze von Karl Marx (1851). The rarity of this emaciated ‘collection’ would be hard to exaggerate. It appears that only a handful of copies were ever printed and that these were never distributed outside of Cologne. (Only recently has the provenance of this exceptionally scarce volume become clearer.) . . . Read the rest of the introduction here:

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