Marx-Engels Correspondence 1867
Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 405;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.
I have now worked through as far as sheet 36 [of the first volume of Capital] approx., and I congratulate you on the comprehensive way in which the most complex economic problems are elucidated simply and almost sensuously merely by arranging them suitably and by placing them in the right context. Likewise, in respect of subject-matter, on the quite splendid exposition of the relationship between labour and capital — for the first time here in its full context and complete. I was also greatly diverted to see how you have worked your way into the language of technology, which must surely have given you much trouble and on which account I had various misgivings. I have corrected several slips of the pen in pencil in the margin, and also ventured to make a few conjectures. But how could you leave the outward structure of the book in its present form! The 4th chapter is almost 200 pages long and only has 4 sub-sections, indicated by four headings in ordinary print, which it is hardly possible to refer back to. Furthermore, the train of thought is constantly interrupted by illustrations, and the point to be illustrated is never summarised after the illustration, so that one is for ever plunging straight from the illustration of one point into the exposition of another point. It is dreadfully tiring, and confusing, too, if one is not all attention. It would have been highly desirable here to have subdivided the text more frequently and to have made the most important sections stand out more, and this must emphatically be done for the English version. In this exposition (especially of cooperation and manufacture) there are indeed several points that are not yet quite clear to me, where I cannot work out which facts lie behind the argument that is expressed solely in general terms. To judge by the outward form of the exposition, this 4th chapter also appears to be the most hurriedly written and the least carefully revised. However, all that is of no import, the main thing is that our economists are not given a weak point anywhere through which they can shoot holes; I am indeed curious to hear what these gentlemen will say, they have not been left even the smallest opening. Roscher and his ilk will not be unduly perturbed, but for the people here in England who do not write for 3-year-olds, it is a different matter altogether.
I very much look forward to your sending me some more sheets as soon as you can, I particularly want to read the section on accumulation in its context.
Give your wife my best wishes. When are the girls coming back?