Kritika Niekotorykh” polozhenii politicheskoi ekonomii. (Zur Kritik der Poltischen Oekonomie.)

MARX Karl (1896.)

£3500.00  [First Edition]

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First edition in Russian. 8vo. xii, [4], 160 pp. Contemporary quarter roan with marbled paper covered boards and brown cloth corners, spine panelled in blind and lettered in gilt, pink silk place marker (rebacked with the original spine laid down, extremities very slightly rubbed, purple ink private library stamp to title page, some occasional marginal highlighting and annotations to the opening leaves in pink pencil). Moscow, Tipografiya Z. Lissnera i Ju. Romana; Vozdvizhenka, Krestovozdvizh. per., D. Lissnera., Izdanie Vladimira Bonch”-Bruebicha.

The first translation into any language of Marx's A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, the "germ" of Das Kapital and Marx's first attempt at a general statement of his economic theory, one of two editions of the same Russian translation published in the same year without established priority.

Originally published in German in 1859, Marx's Contribution represented the first major exposition of the Marxist interpretation of history and political economy, and Marx himself described Das Kapital as a continuation of the ideas set forth in this earlier work (PMM). The Contribution has been widely overshadowed by the monumental influence of Kapital and as such translations of the work appeared relatively late, with the first English translation published as late as 1904.

A single chapter from the book had earlier been translated into Russian, appearing as an appendix to the Marxist economist Nikolai Ziber's 1882 Russian edition of the Works of David Ricardo. However, the present Russian version is the earliest full translation of the work that we have been able to trace in any language and is of particular note as it appeared the year before the second German edition, published in 1897 under the editorship of Karl Kautsky, which served to reintroduce the long-neglected text to the literature of socialism.

Two separate editions of the present Russian translation were published in Moscow in 1896, both of which state 'Izdanie Vladimira Bonch”-Bruebicha' ('Published by Vladimir Bonch-Bruevicha') at head of their respective title pages, referring to Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich (1873-1955), an immensely influential 'Old Bolshevik' and Vladimir Lenin's one-time personal secretary. Bonch-Bruyevich became involved in social-democratic circles in Moscow in 1892 where he produced clandestine hectographic printings of prohibited literature and worked in more commercial publishing, before emigrating to Geneva in 1896. In Geneva, Bonch-Bruyevich played an important role in importing revolutionary literature and printing equipment to Russia.

Although the text of both editions is identical, they are based on entirely different settings of type and bear entirely different imprints at the foot of the title pages, the present edition having been printed by Tipografiya Z. Lissnera i Ju. Romana and the other edition printed by Tipo-litografiya V.S. Traugot.

These editions were published legally in Russia during a period of relatively relaxed censorship laws that lasted from the mid-1890s up until the so-called 'Years of Reaction', the period of harsh tsarist repression commencing from mid-1907 as a reaction to the brief period of liberalisation brought about by the 1905 Russian revolution.

Indeed, both of the separate editions bear notices printed on the versos of the titles pages stating they have passed the censor. Interestingly, although there is no established priority between the two editions, the censors notice on the V.S. Traugot edition is dated 20th December 1885 ('20-go dekabrja 1895 g.') and as such is nearly four months earlier than the present Z. Lissnera i Ju. Romana edition, which is dated 13th April 1896 ('13-go Aprel' 1896 godaju'). This difference may suggest that the V.S. Traugot edition marked the first printing of the translation, with the present Z. Lissnera i Ju. Romana edition following shortly thereafter.

The only part of the book that was affected by the Russian censors was the preface, which is of exceptional methodological and theoretical significance as it contains the first detailed presentation of Marx's materialist conception of history. The sections omitted by the Russian censor include: a passage referring to the "weak, quasi-philosophic echo of French socialism and communism" in the Rheinische Zeitung; a brief reference to Marx’s 1845 expulsion from France by François Guizot; two key sentences from the famous paragraph detailing the concept of historical materialism ("The mode of production in material life determines the general character of the social, political and spiritual process of life." & "With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed."); and an entire paragraph towards the end where Marx traces the development of the concept of historical materialism in his earlier fragmentary works, including references to The Holy Family (1845), The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), and The Communist Manifesto (1848).

The Russian translation was undertaken by the Bolshevik revolutionary Petr Petrovich Rumiantsev (1870-1924), a close associate of the likes Lenin and Maxim Gorky, and a prominent member of Russian social-democratic circles from the early 1890s. Rumiantsev was a member of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) from its foundation in 1898, eventually becoming a member of the central committee of the party and head of the Bolshevik-dominated St. Petersburg Committee of the RSDLP. After the 1903 Bolshevik-Menshevik split in the RSDLP, Rumiantsev served as a member of the editorial staff of the Bolshevik newspaper Novaia zhizn’ (1905) and of the journal Vestnik zhizni (1906–07). Rumiantsev gradually withdrew from political activity between 1907 to 1910 during the so-called 'Years of Reaction', eventually moving abroad and working as a statistician. He died in Berlin in 1924.

Rumiantsev's translation was prepared under the editorship of the distinguished Russian economist and politician Alexander Appolonovich Manuilov (1861-1929) who also provided a short preface to the text. At the time of publication, Manuilov was a Privatdozent at the Department of Political Economy and Statistics of the Imperial Moscow University, where he would eventually become head of the department in 1899 and rector of the whole University in 1908. Manuilov was involved in liberal politics in Russia from 1880s and was a founding member of the centrist Constitutional Democratic Party (Konstitutsionno-demokraticheskaya partiya), eventually serving as Minister of Education in the first Russian Provisional Government following the February revolution of 1917 and subsequent abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. Lenin was an outspoken critic of Manuilov's economic thought, especially concerning the agrarian question, describing him as one of "the bourgeois liberal friends of the muzhik [serfs] who desire the 'extension of peasant land ownership' but do not wish to offend the landlords". 

Rare. OCLC list three copies of the present Z. Lissnera i Ju. Romana edition in the US (Harvard, Hoover Institute, & UW-Madison Libraries) and an additional copy at the International Institute of Social History, Netherlands.

Rubel, 529n [does not differentiate between the two printings].

Stock Code: 244186

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