Reading list

Western Marxist Theory: Verso Student Reading

From across 50 years of publishing at Verso.

Verso Books22 August 2023

Western Marxist Theory: Verso Student Reading

Western Marxism is broadly understood as a set of concerns developed by theorists in Europe who were looking for new paths for Marxist research after the October Revolution. Often critical of what they perceived as the dogmatic Marxism issuing from the Soviet Union, these thinkers (the Frankfurt School, Althusser, Gramsci, Korsch, Lukacs, and others) were united by an intense interest in understanding how ideology and culture (the so-called 'superstructure' as opposed to the 'base') function within capitalism, as well as a renewed focus on the philosophical roots not only of Marxist thought but of modernity in general. 

Use this reading list to navigate Verso's collection of key works by Western Marxist thinkers and stock up on essential reading for your courses this year. See also our Key Debates in Theory reading.

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See all our recommended Student Reading here.

Reading Capital
Originally published in 1965, Reading Capital is a landmark of French thought and radical theory, reconstructing Western Marxism from its foundations. Louis Althusser, the French Marxist philosophe...
Critique of Everyday Life
The three-volume text by Henri Lefebvre is perhaps the richest, most prescient work about modern capitalism to emerge from one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers and is now availabl...
On the Reproduction of Capitalism
Louis Althusser’s renowned short text "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" radically transformed the concept of the subject, the understanding of the state and even the very frameworks o...
On Ideology

On Ideology

The publication of For Marx and Reading Capital established Louis Althusser as one of the most influential figures in the Western Marxist tradition. On Ideology charts Althusser’s critique of the t...
Aesthetics and Politics
No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. In Aesthetics and Politics...
Minima Moralia

Minima Moralia

Written between 1944 and 1947, Minima Moralia is a collection of rich, lucid aphorisms and essays about life in modern capitalist society. Adorno casts his penetrating eye across society in mid-cen...
The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci
An explosive analysis of the central strategic concepts in Gramsci’s thought, as revelatory today as on first publication in New Left Review in 1976. This landmark essay has been the subject of kee...
Paperback
Considerations on Western Marxism
This synoptic essay considers the nature and evolution of the Marxist theory that developed in Western Europe, after the defeat of the proletarian rebellions in the West and the isolation of the Ru...
Arguments Within English Marxism
The characteristic form taken by English Marxism since the war has been the study of history. No writer exemplifies its achievements better than Edward Thompson, whose Making of the English Working...
The Destruction of Reason

The Destruction of Reason

A classic of Western Marxism, The Destruction of Reason is Georg Lukács's trenchant criticism of German philosophy after Marx and the role it played in the rise of National Socialism. Originally pu...
The Philosophy of Marx

The Philosophy of Marx

Written by one of political theory’s leading thinkers, The Philosophy of Marx examines all the key areas of Marx’s writings in their wider historical and theoretical context—including the concepts ...
Marxism and Hegel

Marxism and Hegel

The interpretation of Hegel has been a focal point of philosophical controversy ever since the beginning of the twentieth century, both among Marxists and in the major European philosophical school...
One-Way Street

One-Way Street

Walter Benjamin is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic intellectual figures of this century. Not only was he a thinker who made an enormous impact with his critical and philosophical writings...
The Benjamin Files
The Benjamin Files offers a comprehensive new reading of all of Benjamin's major works and a great number of his shorter book reviews, notes and letters. Its premise is that Benjamin was an anti-p...
Late Marxism
In the name of an assault on “totalization” and “identity,” a number of contemporary theorists have been busily washing Marxism’s dialectical and utopian projects down the plug-hole of postmodernis...
Towards a New Manifesto
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer wrote the central text of “critical theory”, Dialectic of Enlightenment, a measured critique of the Enlightenment reason that, they argued, had resulted in fascism...
The Authoritarian Personality
What makes a fascist? Are there character traits that make someone more likely to vote for the far right? The Authoritarian Personality, written in the shadow of Fascism and the Holocaust, looked t...
Splinters in Your Eye
Although successive generations of the Frankfurt School have attempted to adapt Critical Theory to new circumstances, the work done by its founding members continues in the twenty-first century to ...
From Marxism to Post-Marxism?
A comprehensive history of the development of Marxist theory and the parameters of 21st-century politicsIn this pithy and panoramic work - both stimulating for the specialist and the accessible to ...
Marx and Human Nature
In this passionate and polemical classic work, Norman Geras argues that the view that Marx broke with all conceptions of human nature in 1845 is wrong. Rather, his later writings are informed by an...
The Left Hemisphere
As the crisis of capitalism unfolds, the need for alternatives is felt ever more intensely. The struggle between radical movements and the forces of reaction will be merciless. A crucial battlefiel...
Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

First published in 1967, Guy Debord’s stinging revolutionary critique ofcontemporary society, The Society of the Spectacle has since acquired acult status. Credited by many as being the inspiration...
Culture and Materialism
A comprehensive introduction to the work of one of the outstanding intellectuals of the twentieth century.Raymond Williams is a towering presence in cultural studies, most importantly as the founde...
Politics and Letters

Politics and Letters

Raymond Williams made a central contribution to the intellectual culture of the Left in the English-speaking world. He was also one of the key figures in the foundation of cultural studies in Bri...
On Materialism

On Materialism

This polemical work presents to the English-speaking world one of the most original philosophical thinkers to have emerged within post-war Europe. Sebastiano Timpanaro is an Italian classical philo...
For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign
What if the problems of modern society don't come from production, but rather consumption and the system of cultural signs? In this classic work from the defining intellectual of the postmodern, Je...
Images of Class
During the 1960s and 1970s, Workerism and Autonomia were prominent Marxist currents. However, it is rarely acknowledged that these movements inspired many visual artists such as the members of Arch...
Henri Lefebvre and the Theory of the Production of Space
Shortlisted for the Deutscher Memorial Prize 2023This book presents an encompassing, detailed and thorough overview and reconstruction of Lefebvre’s theory of space and of the urban. Henri Lefebvre...
Marx's Literary Style
In Marx’s Literary Style, the Venezuelan poet and philosopher Ludovico Silva argues that much of the confusion around Marx’s work results from a failure to understand his literary mode of expressio...
A Companion to Marx's Grundrisse
When leading scholar of Marx, Roman Rosdolsky, first encountered the virtually unknown text of Marx's Grundrisse - his preparatory work for his masterpiece Das Capital - in the 1950s in New York Pu...
A Companion To Marx's Capital
In recent years, we have witnessed a surge of interest in Marx’s work in the effort to understand the origins of our current predicament. For nearly forty years, David Harvey has written and lectur...
Classes
Questions of class, power and distribution have reemerged as central concerns in the public discourse. When we talk about class, we don't always know what is meant. Is class about income or affect ...
Reconstructing Marxism
Reconstructing Marxism explores fundamental questions about the structure of Marxist theory and its prospects for the future. The authors maintain that the disintegration of the old theoretical uni...
The Philosophy of Marx

The Philosophy of Marx

Written by one of political theory’s leading thinkers, The Philosophy of Marx examines all the key areas of Marx’s writings in their wider historical and theoretical context—including the concepts ...
Marxism and Hegel

Marxism and Hegel

The interpretation of Hegel has been a focal point of philosophical controversy ever since the beginning of the twentieth century, both among Marxists and in the major European philosophical school...
One-Way Street

One-Way Street

Walter Benjamin is one of the most fascinating and enigmatic intellectual figures of this century. Not only was he a thinker who made an enormous impact with his critical and philosophical writings...
Radio Benjamin

Radio Benjamin

Walter Benjamin was fascinated by the impact of new technology on culture, an interest that extended beyond his renowned critical essays. From 1927 to ’33, he wrote and presented something in the...
The Benjamin Files
The Benjamin Files offers a comprehensive new reading of all of Benjamin's major works and a great number of his shorter book reviews, notes and letters. Its premise is that Benjamin was an anti-p...
Towards a New Manifesto
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer wrote the central text of “critical theory”, Dialectic of Enlightenment, a measured critique of the Enlightenment reason that, they argued, had resulted in fascism...
The Authoritarian Personality
What makes a fascist? Are there character traits that make someone more likely to vote for the far right? The Authoritarian Personality, written in the shadow of Fascism and the Holocaust, looked t...
Grand Hotel Abyss
In 1923, a group of young radical German thinkers and intellectuals came together to at Victoria Alle 7, Frankfurt, determined to explain the workings of the modern world. Among the most prominen...
Splinters in Your Eye
Although successive generations of the Frankfurt School have attempted to adapt Critical Theory to new circumstances, the work done by its founding members continues in the twenty-first century to ...
Workers and Capital
Workers and Capital is universally recognised as the most important work produced by operaismo, a current of political thought emerging in the 1960s that revolutionised the institutional and extra-...
From Marxism to Post-Marxism?
A comprehensive history of the development of Marxist theory and the parameters of 21st-century politicsIn this pithy and panoramic work - both stimulating for the specialist and the accessible to ...
Marx and Human Nature
In this passionate and polemical classic work, Norman Geras argues that the view that Marx broke with all conceptions of human nature in 1845 is wrong. Rather, his later writings are informed by an...
What Is Subjectivity?

What Is Subjectivity?

In 1961, the prolific French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre was invited to give a talk at the Gramsci Institute in Rome. In attendance were some of Italy’s leading Marxist thinkers, such as Enzo Pac...
Resources of Hope
Raymond Williams possessed unique authority as Britain’s foremost cultural theorist and public intellectual. Informed by an unparalleled range of reference and the resources of deep personal experi...
Arguments Within English Marxism
The characteristic form taken by English Marxism since the war has been the study of history. No writer exemplifies its achievements better than Edward Thompson, whose Making of the English Working...
The Left Hemisphere
As the crisis of capitalism unfolds, the need for alternatives is felt ever more intensely. The struggle between radical movements and the forces of reaction will be merciless. A crucial battlefiel...
Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

Comments on the Society of the Spectacle

First published in 1967, Guy Debord’s stinging revolutionary critique ofcontemporary society, The Society of the Spectacle has since acquired acult status. Credited by many as being the inspiration...
Culture and Materialism
A comprehensive introduction to the work of one of the outstanding intellectuals of the twentieth century.Raymond Williams is a towering presence in cultural studies, most importantly as the founde...
Late Marxism
In the name of an assault on “totalization” and “identity,” a number of contemporary theorists have been busily washing Marxism’s dialectical and utopian projects down the plug-hole of postmodernis...
Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology

Capitalism, Socialism, Ecology

In this major new book, Andre Gorz expands on the political implications of his prescient and influential Paths to Paradise and Critique of Economic Reason. Against the background of technological ...
Politics and Letters

Politics and Letters

Raymond Williams made a central contribution to the intellectual culture of the Left in the English-speaking world. He was also one of the key figures in the foundation of cultural studies in Bri...
On Materialism

On Materialism

This polemical work presents to the English-speaking world one of the most original philosophical thinkers to have emerged within post-war Europe. Sebastiano Timpanaro is an Italian classical philo...
For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign
What if the problems of modern society don't come from production, but rather consumption and the system of cultural signs? In this classic work from the defining intellectual of the postmodern, Je...
Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was born in Sardinia in 1891, became the leader of the Italian Communist Party in his early thirties, was arrested by Mussolini's police in 1927, and remained imprisoned until short...
Frantz Fanon
Born in Martinique, Frantz Fanon (1925–61) trained as a psychiatrist in Lyon before taking up a post in colonial Algeria. He had already experienced racism as a volunteer in the Free French Army, i...

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