The first complete Russian translation

Marx, Karl / Engels, Friedrich. Manifest kommunisticheskoj partii [...]. Perevod s nemeckago izdanija 1872. S predisloviem avtorov.

Geneva, Volnaja Russkaja tipografija, 1882.

8vo. X, 50 pp. Original printed wrappers.


The rare first complete Russian translation of the Communist Manifesto, with an original preface by the authors, written a year before the death of Marx. Prepared by Georgi Plekhanov, the present authorized edition made obsolete the 1869 first Russian translation (Andréas 54) by Bakunin (or Netshayev?), which contained a number of serious mistakes and omitted several sections of the German original. Although heavily persecuted by the Tsarist government, it would have an immense impact on the Russian socialist movement of the 1880s.

Marx's and Engels' groundbreaking work of communist propaganda is "undoubtedly the most widespread, the most international production of all Socialist literature, the common platform acknowledged by millions of working men from Siberia to California" (preface to the 1888 edition). In the words of the British economist Harold Laski, the Manifesto is "admitted by every serious student of society to be one of the outstanding documents of all time". It also constitutes an early sum of Marx's and Engels's ideas, later to become known by the catchword of "scientific socialism": "[L]e manifeste renferme en puissance la quasi-totalité des idées élaborées par ses deux auteurs dans leurs ouvrages ultérieurs et qui, dans leur ensemble, représentent ce qu'ils appellent le socialisme scientifique; la seul exception importante est la théorie de la plus-value" (Andréas, p. 1).

Unbeknownst to either author, it would be Russia where the Revolution heralded by the Manifesto would finally take place, under the leadership of their disciple Lenin who did not discover Marxism until after Marx's passing (but who was later to prepare his own translation of the Communist Manifesto).

Tiny tear to the blank upper margin of two leaves (pp. 11-14). Upper wrapper and title-page very slightly spotted. Not seen at auction for more than three decades.

Marx-Engels Erstdrucke 15 and 17 (illustration). Andréas 135. Rubel 757. OCLC 27880241. Cf. PMM 326.

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