This is a synopsis of Capital, Volume I, written by Engels in 1868. Upon Capital’s release, Engels began constructing a comprehensive summation. On April 17, 1868, he wrote Marx: “I have a limited time at my disposal and the summarising of your book requires more work than I thought; after all, once having taken up the work, I must do it properly….” Engels’ synopsis serves two useful contributions: First, Engels was a far more rapid writer than Marx, and more readable. Second, Engels could distance himself from the massive web of ideas without “losing his place in it”, and identify primary points to be made.
Engels could achieve this because he was intimately involved with the production of Capital. Marx forwarded sheets to Engels as they were printed; Engels sent back his impressions and thoughts. This text was published in Fortnightly Review. Engels only summarized the first four chapters of Volume I of Capital.
NOTE: In the first edition, Volume I was divided into six chapters. Subsequent editions renamed these chapters “parts”. The 5th chapter was broken into two parts; so that a total of seven parts resulted. The four chapters summarized by Engels therefore correspond to the first four parts of Capital as found today. Also note Marx made additions and alterations to the text in subsequent editions. For example, Marx did not dwell in the 1st chapter/part (Commodities) on value and exchange-value — so Engels’ synopsis doesn’t deal with that subject, which is today integral to chapter one.
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