The task of this complete new historical-critical edition of the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels is to provide comprehensive and reliable basic source material for the use of scholars in all disciplines and for all other language editions of their works. With regard to this fundamental purpose the guiding principles of the MEGA are as follows:
The MEGA is the first edition of the works of Marx and Engels to present their literary heritage in full, that is, comprising all of their surviving written material. Together with the papers, articles and letters already known, the MEGA includes a number of never yet published or newly discovered works. More-over, all extant manuscripts, drafts, notes, excerpts as well as marginal notes in books, etc., will be included. In addition to this, not only the letters written by Marx and Engels themselves will be included, but also those letters addressed to them by third parties. Each volume is actually a double volume: the text proper, on the one hand, and the relevant commentary and the index section, on the other, are bound separately, thus making it easier for the reader to use the different parts simultaneously.
All texts published in the MEGA are published in the language in which they were originally written. The writings are reproduced in exact conformity with the authors’ original texts, all copy being checked against the manuscripts, whenever accessible, or authorized printed versions. Unfinished manuscripts are presented in the stage in which they were left by the authors. Such an approach involves a critical textual revision with a view to eliminating obvious errors; but interference in the authors’ texts is always made with extreme caution and is exactly indicated to the reader.
Presentation of the texts in the various stages of their preparation
In line with modern methods of editing, the MEGA clearly and comprehensively displays—insofar as the relevant drafts are available—the textual develoment of the various works of Marx and Engels from the first sketching out of their thoughts to the final version. In the text volume either the manuscript version or a printed authorized version is reproduced in its entirety. But the textual development from the manuscript to the various authorized printed versions is always completely documented in a listing of variants. Thus for the first time all versions drafted or corrected by the authors are made available for study.
The complete edition of Marx and Engels’ literary bequest includes, more-over, intensive critical annotation. The comprehensive commentary is a product of the research carried out by the institutes involved and provides all data necessary for scholarly purposes. This commentary builds upon the scientific findings of international scholarship, at the same time enriching it by the further knowledge gained in the direct preparation of this historical-critical edition. The presentation of a critical commentary in relation to each individual work begins with a record of the origin and the history of the text, including proof of authorship and authentication of date, as well as an exact description of the surviving manuscripts and authorized printed versions. This is followed by the already indicated variants, showing the development of the text and the record of subsequent editorial changes by the authors. Extensive annotation will provide all other pertinent data and necessary references for the scholarly reader. An introduction to the entire material contained in a volume is also furnished. Finally, each MEGA volume includes separate bibliographies of the works cited by Marx and Engels and of those utilized by the editors in the preparation of the text and commentary. This is followed by both a subject and name index, the latter including essential biographical information.