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Friday, 10 September 2010

Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels: Gesamtausgabe (MEGA). Herausgegeben von der Internationalen Marx-Engels-Stiftung. Erste Abteilung. Band 31: Friedrich Engels: Werke, Artikel, Entwürfe Oktober 1886 bis Februar 1891. Bearbeitet von Renate Merkel-Melis. Berlin 2002. XI und 1440 S. – 22 Abb. 2 Bde. – ISBN 978–3–05–003482–9. (Description in English. From the MEGA. website)

MEGA volume I/31 presents the "elderly" Friedrich Engels in a new light. The 67 edited writings here present are principally political pieces that the seventy-year old Engels produced alongside his preparation of Marx's manuscripts for the third volume of "Capital" and his correspondence with men and women in countless lands of Europe as well in the United States.
Engels here investigates the origins of the German Empire and the politics of Bismarck, the foreign policy situation in Europe and the consequent growing danger of war. In the article "The Foreign Policy of Russian Czarism" he deals with two hundred years of Russian history. With regard to this text, which in the history of Marx-Engels editions and biographies has had a non-linear destiny (Stalin prohibited it and in biographical works it was hushed up), this volume offers for the first time a detailed study of the origins of the first Russian translation.
The extensive manuscript "The Role of Violence in History" and the connected five preparatory pieces are, for the first time with regard to the original hand-written text, presented in a complete, chronological and precisely deciphered manner. The critical notes on this text utilizes books from Engels' own library and identifies exactly where Eduard Bernstein intervened in the preparation of its first publication.
Volume I/31 also documents Engels' role with regard to the organization of the international Paris Workers Congress in 1889 which came to be the founding congress of the Second International.
How Engels disseminated his own and Marx's writings is shown through ten forwards for new editions and translations. The defense of Marx's point of view is present in two polemical writings: in the article "Lawyers' Socialism", written together with Kautsky, one can see for the first time which parts can be ascribed to each of the authors; with regard to the pamphlet "In the case Brentano versus Marx. Regarding Alleged Falsification of Quotation" the accusation against Marx of having falsified quotations is critically examined. The two biographical sketches of Johann Philipp Becker and Sigismund Borkheim show the particular interest Engels showed, after the death of Marx, in the history of the early socialist movement and the Revolution of 1848/49.
The main part of the text volume contains three pieces which for the first time are published in either their original language or with Engels indicated as the author. The appendix contains several works which are published for the first time in an Engels edition. Among these as "dubiosa" are an excerpt from his speech at the funeral of Helena Demuth and an anonymously printed drawing of Friedrich Wilhelm IV there is also a translation of excerpts from the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley. In the appendix there are in addition eight texts to which Engels collaborated and which are published for the first time. Included are Engels' interventions and completion of the following material: Hermann Schlüter's "The Chartist Movement in England" and two of Edward Aveling's signed Circulars of his defense against the accusation by the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Labor Party that he and his wife Eleanor Marx-Aveling had squandered money during a propaganda tour in the United States for this party. Two texts of Karl Kautsky, which were completed with Engels' collaboration, are also here published: the biographical sketch "Friedrich Engels" as well as the pamphlet "The Class Conflict in 1789". Aside from the already known leaflets for the preparation of the Paris Workers Congress which were drawn up with Bernstein, the volume contains from the latter an additional one as well as an article he wrote on the 1889 London dockworkers' strike; both were directly encouraged through letters from Engels.
For 43 texts in this volume the dating, with regard to previous publications and information, has been either corrected, rendered more precise or newly researched.

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