Capital. A Critique of Political Economy. Volume II. The Process of Circulation of Capital. Edited by Frederick Engels.

MARX Karl (1907.)

£2000.00  [First Edition]

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Translated by Ernest Untermann. First edition in English, UK issue. 8vo. 618 pp. Original red cloth, spine lettered and ruled in gilt, ruling continued to front cover in blind, publisher's device embossed in black to front cover (some light wear to extremities, short closed tear to head of spine, otherwise an excellent copy). Chicago, Charles H. Kerr & Company; London, Swan Sonneschein & Co.

The first English translation of the second volume of Das Kapital, published in Chicago by Charles H. Kerr & Company and issued in the UK using the original sheets from the American edition bound in Swan Sonneschein's characteristic red cloth - much scarcer than the American edition. The second volume of Kapital was originally published posthumously in German in 1885 under the editorship of Friedrich Engels.

The translation was the initiative of the veteran Chicago radical publisher Charles H. Kerr (1860-1944) who had long-explored the possibility of producing a complete English translation of all three volumes of Das Kapital. In 1902 Kerr negotiated a deal with the London publisher Swan Sonneschein to become the official American distributor of the English translation of the first volume of Kapital by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling under the supervision of Engels, originally published in 1887.

However, Kerr remained eager to produce editions of the second and third volumes of Kapital, still then untranslated into English either side of the Atlantic, and set about actively searching for a competent translator and the necessary funding for such a vast editorial undertaking. Kerr had initially contacted the English socialist Henry Mayers Hyndman, who had both sufficient grasp of Marxist economic theory and the financial means, but despite some initial interest from Hyndman Kerr would ultimately settle on the German-American socialist Ernest Untermann (1864-1956) as his translator.

Untermann was born in Brandenburg and studied paleontology and geology at the University of Berlin before joining the merchant navy. "He first set foot in the United States in 1881 and became a citizen in 1893 after spending nearly ten years of his life aboard U.S. sailing vessels that piled the South Seas trade. A member of the SLP in the 1890s, he contributed regular columns to an assortment of socialist periodicals, including the Worker’s Call and its successor, the Chicago Socialist" (Ruff, p. ...). Unterman had previously collaborated with Kerr, having frequently contributed articles to Kerr's monthly periodical the International Socialist Review and produced translations of Engels's Origin of the Family and Antonio Labriola's Socialism and Philosophy that appeared under Kerr's imprint.

However, despite these earlier contributions to the literature of socialism, a complete translation of all three volumes of Kapital was of a different order of magnitude and Unterman, with wife and daughters, would require some form of financial support if this monumental task was to proceed. "Following an unsuccessful attempt to raise the needed funds through a company stock subscription drive", Kerr finally secured financial assistance of the German industrialist and socialist Eugene Dietzgen (1862-1929). Dietzgen's socialist credentials were considerable; his father, Joseph Dietzgen, was a close associate of Marx and Engels themselves as well as a serious socialist philosopher in his own right, and Eugene Dietzgen followed in his father's footsteps by becoming "the financial patron of various publishing ventures of the Second International, including Kautsky's Die Neue Zeit, the foremost theoretical journal of German Social Democracy" (Ruff, p. ...).

“Unterman set to work on the massive project in the spring of 1905 while living on a chicken farm in Orlando, Florida. 'I couldn’t have done it on what Kerr paid me', he later recounted, 'but Eugene Dietzgen paid me a total of $5.00 per page, so I built up a little chicken ranch that panned out well enough to keep my family and myself in groceries. I did the translating after I got through fighting skunks, opossums, snakes, and hawks and for a while it was doubtful whether the chicken business belonged to me or to preying animals. But I won out after a while.'  

The transplanted Floridian not only translated volumes two and three, but he also revised and edited a new edition of volume one. Engels had edited the proofs for a fourth German edition of volume one four years after the publication of the Swan Sonnenschein English version, and Unterman used the revised German work as the source for his translation. Kerr released the revised edition of volume one late in 1906, and the two additional volumes appearing in 1907 and 1909 respectively. The Kerr edition of Kapital immediately become the accepted English version, and Swan Sonnenschein, in conjunction with Charles H. Kerr & Company, began to distribute it throughout the English-speaking word" (Ruff, p. …). 

See: Ruff, "We Called Each Other Comrade": Charles H. Kerr & Company, Radical Publishers.

Stock Code: 245153

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