This is the work in which Louis Althusser formulated some of his most influential ideas. For Marx, first published in France in 1968, has come to be regarded as the founding text of the school of “structuralist Marxism” which was presided over by the fascinating and enigmatic figure of Louis Althusser. Structuralism constituted an intellectual revolution in the 1960s and 1970s and radically transformed the way philosophy, political and social theory, history, science, and aesthetics were discussed and thought about. For Marx was a key contribution to that process and it fundamentally recast the way in which many people understood Marx and Marxism.
This book contains the classic statements of Althusser's analysis of the young Marx and the importance of Feuerbach during this formative period, of his thesis of the “epistomological break” between the early and the late Marx, and of his conception of dialectics, contradiction and “overdetermination.” Also included is a study of the materialist theater of Bertolazzi and Brecht and the critique of humanist readings of Marxism. Since his death in 1990, Althusser's legacy has come under renewed examination and it is increasingly recognized that the influence of his ideas has been wider and deeper than previously thought: reading For Marx, in its audacity, originality and rigor, will explain why this impact was so significant.
A crucial figure in radical publishing, François Maspero (19 January 1932—11 April 2015) published some of the 20th century's most important works: Fanon, Althusser, Che, Malcolm X... In the interview below, given to Bertrand Leclair for La Quinzaine littéraire, he addressed some of the troubling developments in the "Darwinian" world of publishing, where "the big predators are constantly on the march." Translated by David Broder.
In commemoration of the death of author and publisher François Maspero, who passed away on Saturday, April 11 at the age of 83. Verso presents this translated interview with the founder of Éditions Maspero, the publishing house which has served as an inspiration for radical left publishing since the fifties.
François Maspero (19 January 1932 – 11 April 2015)
We see the publisher François Maspero as having played a leading role in ‘smuggling across’ the communist and anti-colonial thought of the postwar period and preserving its heritage. Indeed, Éditions Maspero is an unavoidable reference point for any discussion of critical publishing in France. Maspero’s output was the theatre of important debates on the far Left in the 1960s and 1970s, and played a pioneering role in many fields. It was Maspero who published Fanon, the political writings of Baldwin, Malcolm X and Che, anthologies of classic labour-movement works, Althusser’s ‘Théorie’ collection, the journal Partisans… We wanted to ask him about his project and the editorial ambitions that he had at the time. Here we reproduce what he calls an ‘attempt at a response’ to our questions.
Just imagine we did all live in the future utopia that is Constant’s New Babylon. What would the library be like? I expect it would feature a greatest hits edition of the theory that helped us all get there. Here’s some notes towards it.
Sometimes to take three steps forward, you have to first take two steps back. I have been thinking that it might be worth stepping back into the archive of historical materialisms, critical theories and such, to see if there are neglected resources there. Perhaps we can’t just built on previous selections from it.
Perhaps we have to find new ways of reading even those texts that have become relentlessly canonic. New futures call for new pasts. So let’s find some! Here I have organized some working notes towards a revised resource guide to the past for this present.