Dal terzo volume del Capitale di Carlo Marx. I, Prefazione e Commenti di Federico Engels.

ENGELS Friedrich (1896.)

£750.00  [First Edition]

Please contact us in advance if you would like to view this book at our Curzon Street shop.

First edition in Italian. 8vo. 55, [1] pp. Original printed wrappers (thin strip of paper tape reinforcement to spine, slight wear with a few minor chips to edges, faint scattered foxing to wrappers, notwithstanding a good example of a fragile publication). Roma, Tipografia Editrice Romana.

An excellent association copy, presented by the translator Pasquale Martignetti (1844-1920) to the great Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Labriola (1843-1904) who edited the translation; inscribed by Martignetti 'Chiarissimo Prof. Ant Labriola Omaggio del traduttore' at the head of front wrapper.

The first Italian translation of Engels's preface to the third volume of Das Kapital, prepared by Engels from Marx's manuscripts and originally published in German in 1894. The decision to prepare a separate publication of only the prefatory matter to the third volume of Kapital is strange indeed and the motivation to do so was peculiar to the Italian 'situation' insofar as it responds directly to criticism from the avowedly socialist Italian political economist Achille Loria (1857-1943).

The dispute between Engles and Loria dated back to 1883 with the appearance of an article by Loria on the occasion of Marx's death, published in the Italian journal Nuova Antologia, in which Loria accused Marx of sophistry and made various spurious claims about his works, including the suggestion that the hugely anticipated second and third volumes of Das Kapital, still then unpublished, were mere fictions and did not exist at all, serving only as a shield with which Marx could deflect criticism of his work.

Engels leapt to the defence of his departed friend, sending a furious letter to Loria on 20th May 1883 in which he described Loria as an 'armchair socialist' and resoundingly rebutted the slanderous claims regarding Marx's character. Engels's correspondence in the following years is scattered with references to Loria, usually referring to him sarcastically as the 'illustrious one', although Engels would often adopt a more directly disparaging tone: 'charlatan', 'rogue', 'plagiarist', 'academic careerist', 'humbug', and 'windbag' were among his milder expressions (see Henderson, p. 674).

Engels resumed his attack over a decade later in his preface to the third volume, returning to Loria's 1883 article on Marx as well as Loria's 1886 book La Teoria Economica della Constituzione Politica in which he had attempted to take credit for the discovery of the concept of historical materialism that had already been enunciated by Marx forty years earlier. Engels also highlighted the ways in which Loria had failed to understand Marx's theory of surplus value. "Having first confused surplus value with profit Loria had proceeded to argue that the existence of universal rates of interest invalidated Marx's theory" (Henderson, p. 674).

Loria replied in turn with an article titled 'L'opera postuma di Carlo Marx', again published in Nuova Antologia, and the whole affair risked boiling over into a scandal amongst the Italian socialist movement. Moreover, the reception of the dispute in Italy was rather one-sided insofar as Loria's various were appearing in Italian. Loria's ascendancy in Italy evidently worried Engels and rather than wait for a full Italian translation of third volume of Kapital, Engels and his allies in Italy prepared the present translation of only the preface in order to fully present his side of the debate.

The translation was undertaken by Pasquale Martignetti (1844-1920), a “commendable yet obscure provincial translator” from Benevento in the South of Italy, who had been a close correspondent of Engels since the early 1880s, having produced Italian translations of Engels's Socialism, Utopian and Scientific and The Origin of the Family (see Favilli, p. 209). Martignetti's translation was in turn edited by Antonio Labriola (1843-1904), a distinguished Marxist philosopher and the foremost proponent of German Marxist orthodoxy in Italy at the turn of the century, who added various stylistic flourishings to the text. On Labriola's contribution, Engels commented in a letter to Paul Lafargue dated 26 February 1895 that Martignetti's translation had been "reviewed by Labriola, who has rendered the passages on Loria with a voluptuousness which bursts through each line."

However, there was much controversy about whether the translation should be published at all. The natural choice was for publication would have been the doctrinally eclectic left-wing Milanese journal Critica Sociale edited by Filippo Turati (1857-1932), founder of the Italian Socialist Party (Partito dei Lavoratori Italiani). However, Turati did not wish to risk alienating such a prominent figure as Loria from the socialist cause in Italy and as such rejected the publication of the preface in Critica Sociale. A willing publisher was eventually found in the form of La Ressegna, a non-socialist Neapolitan newspaper with only a limited local circulation, appearing in their 'gennaoi e febbraio 1895' issue. In search of a wider audience, the present book edition was prepared, printed at the beginning of the following year by a commercial publisher in Rome.

As well as Engels's preface, the book edition also contains a short introduction by the translator Pasquale Martignetti along with Engels's posthumously published 'Supplement and Addendum' to the third volume of Kapital (titled here 'Complementi ed aggiunte al terzo libro del Capitale'). The 'Supplement' was the last piece that Engels wrote during his lifetime, dating from only two months before his death, and was originally drafted as two articles to appear in Die Neue Zeit that sought to respond to the first wave criticism of the third volume of Kapital, clarifying and updating various parts of the argument.

The first of these articles, titled 'Law of Value and Rate of Profit', was completely finished before Engels's death. It is significant in the context of the present publication as we see Engels resuming his critique of Loria. The article sought to clarify Marx’s switch from value to production price in the second and third volumes of Kapital in response to criticism from Loria as well as the German economists Werner Sombart and Conrad Schmidt. Engels's argument was "that the shift from value to production price was not merely a logical development entailed by the enlargement of the scope of investigation to include circulation and the ‘process of capitalist production as a whole’, but also reflected a real historical transition from the stage of simple commodity production to that of capitalism proper" (New Palgrave).

The second article on 'The Stock Exchange' was unfinished, the manuscript consisting only of a brief general outline comprised of seven bullet points. Engels was concerned with the ways in which the stock exchange had developed since Marx had last written seriously on the subject in 1865. In particular, Engels underlined the gradual conversion of different branches of industry as well as banking, trade and agriculture into joint-stock companies” (Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics).

The two articles of Engels's 'Supplement' were eventually published posthumously in Die Neue Zeit (14.jg., 1. Bd., Nos. 1-2, 1895-96) along with a short preface by the leading German social-democrat Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932) which is included in the Italian translation.

The present Italian book edition was published in March 1896, just over six months after Engels's death. In reality, Engels need to have been overly worried about the affair with Loria; the fractious 1894-95 debate marked "a first distancing of the Italian socialists from Loria, seen as the noble father of an Italian socialist economic science" (Favilli, p. 182).

Provenance: (1) inscribed by the translator Pasquale Martignetti to Antonio Labriola, with the additional inscription 'dai libri di Antonio Labriola' to inside front wrapper; (2) Dal Pane library label to title page, purple rubber stamp to head of p. 10 and foot of p. 50.

Rare. OCLC list one copy in the UK, held by Trinity College Cambridge, and a single copy in Italy.

See: Favilli, The History of Italian Marxism: From its Origins to the Great War; Henderson, The Life of Friedrich Engels.

Gianni, Diffusione, popolarizzazione e volgarizzazione del marxism in Italia, e.i. 96. VIII. E.F.; Stammhamner, III, p. 104.

Stock Code: 244563

close zoom-in zoom-out close zoom