The Inexhaustible Desire to Keep Talking about Marx

Jonathan Wolff at the TLS:

As Allen W. Wood observed in 1981, while it is easy to write an above-average book on Marx, it is hard to write a good one. The global outpouring of new volumes, editions and translations this year, the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, tests this claim to destruction. Too many books? Not for me. There can hardly be a subject so rich. Marx’s writings, when combined with Engels’s, will fill 114 hefty volumes. Only a tiny fraction was published in Marx’s lifetime, and of that, far too much was devoted to the ponderous demolition of now forgotten rivals. Some of the most interesting works, such as the 1844 Manuscripts, the German Ideology, and the Grundrisse, were only published decades after his death, sometimes in volumes coloured by ideological editorial decisions. Marx can be interpreted, reinterpreted, analysed, reduced, contextualized, medicalized, flattered, or diminished. He can be lauded for his vision, energy and influence, and condemned for exactly the same things. His vanity and catastrophic money management, but also his medical complaints (boils, liver) and family life of tortured devotion, constitute a tragicomic background to dry economic theory and sometimes petty political machinations. There are many Marxes, even more Marxisms, and therefore there is an unending potential for writing something new and original. But for thinking about Marx there is no time like the present.

more here.