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Marx, Karl
Le Capital,

6, 000 

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One of the most influential book of modern times” (Dr. B. L. Shelley).

“The summation of Karl Marx’s quarter of a century’s economic studies” (PMM).

Edition originale française du Capital de Marx : « not a mere translation, but rather an original work » (Marx)

Exemplaire conservé dans sa reliure de l’époque.


Marx, Karl. Le Capital.

Paris, Éditeurs, Maurice Lachatre et Cie, [1872-5], 1872.

In-folio de 351 pp., (1) p.

Demi-chagrin havane, dos à nerfs ornés de filet dorés, tranches mouchetées, qq. ff. brunis, qq. piqures. Reliure de l’époque.

285 X 196 mm.

Edition originale française du Capital de Marx, l’ouvrage le plus influent des temps modernes.

First edition first issue of the first French translation of volume I of Das Kapital, the most influential book of modern times” (Dr. B. L. Shelley).

Books That Made Europe, p. 248; Einaudi, 3770; Mattioli, 2283; PMM, 359 (first German edition); Sraffa, 3859.

First French edition of the first volume of Das Kapital, the definitive text as authorized by Karl Marx, this being the first issue with Lachâtre’s imprint.

The book was published in parts from August 1872 to November 1875, here bound on completion.

The first volume of Das Kapital was originally published in German in 1867. This French edition was the second translation, preceded only by the Russian translation of 1872, but Marx felt that this translation was more important than the Russian, and his extensive work on the project means « Le Capital was not a mere translation, but rather an original work, relevant from a textual point of view » (Books that Made Europe, p. 248).

The second and third volumes of Das Kapital were published after Marx’s death by Engels in 1885 and 1894, and were first published in French in 1900 and 1902.

In December 1871, while revising the text for the second German edition, Marx agreed to this French edition with the publisher Maurice Lachâtre, an anticlerical radical and friend of Proudhon, who had been exiled to Spain after the Paris Commune. Marx initially approved the translation to be undertaken by Joseph Roy, who had already translated the works of the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, but « in spite of the expectations, however, Roy did not render the text vivid enough and the translation proved to be too literal and unsatisfactory. At the beginning of Spring 1872, Marx started to re-write full passages to make them more appealing to the French public and continued to do so for almost two years, eating up a lot of the time intended for the drafting of his second volume of the work » (Books That Made Europe, p. 248).

Issued in parts and consuming much of Marx’s time, it took 39 months to complete the project, but Marx’s close attention and extensive revisions to the text and galley proofs as the project progressed resulted in a revised text that he felt was more definitive than the German and Russian predecessors (including the second German edition of 1872). In his notice to the reader dated 28 April 1875, Marx wrote: « Quelles que soient les imperfections littéraires de cette édition française, elle possède une valeur scientifique indépendante de l’original et doit être consultée même par les lecteurs familiers avec la langue allemande » (p. 348: « Whatever the literary imperfections of this French edition, it has a scientific value independent of the original and must be consulted even by readers familiar with the German language »).

Marx recommended this French text, with its revisions and new theoretical reflections, for future translations and editions, and it was used for the first English translation of 1887 and thereafter. From certain indications found in the correspondence of Marx, it seems likely that the French government, who must have frowned upon the appearance of Das Kapital in French, tried to prevent its publication, which for a certain time was interrupted by the authorities. When the publication was finally completed, rumours abounded that its sale was to be forbidden and the publisher Lachâtre hesitated to sell copies. Unsold sheets were later reissued with the imprint of Librairie du Progrès, with new preliminary pages removing Lachâtre’s name, between 1878 and 1880; this first issue is therefore distinguished by the presence of his imprint.

“Das Kapital was the summation of Marx’s quarter of a century’s economic studies. The historical-polemical passages, with their formidable documentation from British official sources, have remained memorable; and, as Marx wrote to Engels while the volume was still in press” I hope the bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles all the rest of their lives”. Carbuncles, financial embarrassment and political preoccupations of many kinds hampered Marx’s work on Das Kapital, which he would never have completed but for the material and moral support of Engels” (PMM).

The history of the twentieth century is Marx’s legacy. Stalin, Mao, Che, Castro — the icons and monsters of the modern age have all presented themselves as his heirs… Within one hundred years of his death half the world’s population was ruled by governments that professed Marxism to be their guiding faith. His ideas have transformed the study of economics, history, geography, sociology and literature” (Wheen).

« Le Capital est l’œuvre la plus importante de Karl Marx. Même ses adversaires déclarés n’ont pas pu ne pas s’incliner devant sa puissance. Werner Sombart, un des économistes allemands qui polémiquent le plus âprement contre le marxisme déclarait lui-même : « Si la science économique a pu aboutir dans ses recherches à des résultats féconds, c’est pour avoir subi pendant un siècle les voies que Marx lui avait ouvertes, grâce à sa manière géniale de poser les problèmes. Et nous pouvons maintenant affirmer avec certitude que ceux des économistes qui se sont refusés à suivre ces voies ont fait un travail stérile » (Dictionnaire des œuvres).

Exemplaire conservé dans sa reliure de l’époque.

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