Concept of the online edition of the manuscripts of “Feuerbach,” the 1st chapter of The German Ideology
According to MEGA②I/5 (2017), “Feuerbach,” the first chapter of The German Ideology, has been edited and published in nine different text arrangements in its original language since the 1926 Rjazanov edition. Each of these editions except for the 7th was published in Germany and/or Russia. By the way, the 7th edition is Hiromatsu-Edition published in Japan in 1974. MEGA②I/5 does not mention this and the next edition after the 6th is the 8th edition. This online edition, then is the 10th edition of this text – however, it is the first edition put together with an eye toward online publication and consumption. This 10th edition was edited concurrently with MEGA②I/5 editors. If users compare individual texts and text variants, the text of this edition is basically identical with the version found in MEGA②I/5. However, this edition is presented in an essentially different way. What are the specific differences between this edition and previous editions, and why was this edition published? This preface will focus on this issue.
Marx and Engels wrote seven manuscripts for the first chapter of The German Ideology. Of particular importance is the “Convolute to Feuerbach,” which Marx created by editing and combining three different manuscripts. The other six manuscripts vary in length. There are three incomplete prefaces to the chapter, one note, and two neatly written fragments. Online publication of these manuscripts will be divided into two parts; today (August 23, 2019), we will publish the “Convolute to Feuerbach.” The other manuscripts will be published by next spring.
I. The need for an online edition
1. Common defect of previous publications
“Feuerbach” documents Marx and Engels’ interactions in clearer and more abundant detail than the other six manuscripts. Here, we can find the main theses of their materialist conception of history. Interestingly, Engels physically wrote “Feuerbach” – but then, who played the leading role in conceiving and developing the manuscript? Marx or Engels? To answer this question, we must have precise and specific information on the state of the descriptions of the manuscript – for example, the difference between Marx and Engels’ handwriting. We decided to edit an online edition of “Feuerbach” because no other published version has accurately or adequately discussed all information relevant to this question.
2. It is impossible to directly translate the variances between the MEGA②- volumes into Asian languages
The text of “Feuerbach” contains many variants. We classify these variants into two categories: immediate variants and late variants. Immediate variants arise in the course of writing a sentence; i.e., they arise during the formation of the so-called base text or first draft of the manuscript. These variants include grammatical errors and other, similar mistakes. Late variants arise after writing the sentence; i.e., they aim to improve or correct the base text after it has been drafted. These variants include deleted or replaced text, inserts, and supplements to the text.
These two variants must be distinguished from each other. Each is very important to research on the formation of the texts. Nevertheless, a few Asian researchers of Marx and Engels researchers are interested in these variants between texts in the MEGA②- volumes, for a simple reason – it is very difficult to faithfully represent or translate these variants into a language whose sentence structure is very different from German. For example – Chinese has no article, the position of a verb in Japanese is different than in German, and so on. In order to overcome this problem, we have to present the variants in a different way.
If all variants were included in the full text of “Feuerbach,” we could translate them into various non-German languages. Considering the difficulty of funding such a project, we decided to instead edit an online edition of the manuscript of “Feuerbach.”
II. Working hypothesis: Marx dictated and Engels wrote
How did the base text of “Feuerbach” come about? More than 99.99% of the base text of the “Convolute to Feuerbach” is written by Engels, except for six lines of p. 25 (page number given by Marx). The editors of this online edition considered three possible explanations of how “Feuerbach” was written in detail, before and after editing the manuscript.
First: Engels wrote “Feuerbach” independently from Marx except in one place. This hypothesis was developed by Wataru Hiromatsu (1966), and more recently by Jurriaan Bendien (2018). However, this hypothesis contradicts Engels’ own statements. Engels (1877, 1883, 1885, 1888) states repeatedly that the materialistic conception of history is Marx’s own original work. Because the materialist conception of history was documented in “Feuerbach” for the first time, this hypothesis – that most of the text is Engels’ original work – does not hold. This hypothesis is also inconsistent with documentary and anecdotal evidence that Marx and Engels often met in Brussels and held repeated discussions while the manuscript was being written.
Second: Engels discussed the contents of “Feuerbach” with Marx beforehand, and then he arranged and wrote the manuscript based on the results of their discussions. This second hypothesis is presented by G. Mayer (1920, 1921), MEGA①I/5 (1932) and more recently, MEGA②I/5 (2018). It is undeniable that Marx and Engels discussed the contents of “Feuerbach” before writing the manuscript. It is worth considering that Marx's handwriting was infamous for its illegibility, and Engels’ handwriting was quick and neat. Because the manuscripts of The German Ideology were to be published in a quarterly magazine, they had to be finished cleanly and quickly. Under these circumstances, it is possible that Engels wrote the manuscripts himself in order to quickly and accurately distill his discussions with Marx for publication.
However, we can’t support the notion that Engels arranged their discussions – that, in other words, the base text and arguments of these manuscripts, especially “Convolute to Feuerbach,” were the products of Engels' brain. If this were true, it would be more appropriate to attribute the materialistic conception of history to Engels, not Marx; however, this point of view contradicts Engels’ clear and repeated statements on the origin of that idea, as mentioned above.
What can’t be overlooked is the amount and content of the immediate variants of the base text of “Convolute to Feuerbach.” This brings us to the third hypothesis: that Marx discussed the contents of the manuscript with Engels, arranged the results, and then dictated as Engels wrote.
“Convolute to Feuerbach” is named H5 manuscript on MEGA②I/5. It consists of three parts: the early version of the Bauer criticism (so called H5a in MEGA②I/5, hereafter H5a), pp. 1-29; part of III. Saint Max. D. “The Hierarchy” (so called H5b in MEGA②I/5, hereafter H5b), pp. 30-35; and the early version of III. Saint Max. Article 2, as well as assorted fragments and notes (so called H5c in MEGA②I/5, hereafter H5c), pp. 40-72. H5 was edited by Marx from H5a, H5b, and H5c.
In the edition Marx edited, condensed, and added to the original texts of the II. Chapter of St. Bruno and the III. Chapter St. Max. The longest of the three original manuscripts is H5c, which is 34 pages long. Its base texts and immediate variants are all in Engels’ handwriting. However, the average frequency of immediate variants per MEGA② normal page of H5c is 7.5 times more than that of Engels’ three different manuscripts from MEGA②I/3, which he wrote alone, and twice that of Marx’s manuscript, the so-called “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts” of 1844 in MEGA②I/2. The differences between these three average frequencies of immediate variants per MEGA② normal page of H5c is remarkable and should not be overlooked. Furthermore, H5c has six instances in which the writer confuses homophones. These confusions include verb and preposition, as well as relative pronouns and articles. Such confusion is unlikely to occur in the writing of native speakers. It is therefore appropriate to look at H5c as a product of dictation. In the case of the “Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts” of 1844, there was a case in which a modifier for a noun was revised three times and eventually deleted. If it was dictated by someone like Marx, with his peculiar style of composition, it would be no surprise that the writer made so many immediate variants as seen in the base texts of H5c.
On the one hand, few immediate variants are produced when an author carefully delivers his own words to paper following reflection. On the other hand, many immediate variants are produced when an author thinks and writes at same time, editing as he writes. It is apparent that Engels is the former type of writer and Marx the latter. The editors have not yet completed their research on the immediate variants in H5a and H5b, but a glimpse at the resources at hand suggests that there is not much difference in the frequency of immediate variants between the two manuscripts (H5a and H5b) and H5c. From the above, the editors edited this online edition based on the following hypothesis – that Marx dictated and Engels wrote the base texts of “Convolute to Feuerbach” (Omura, 2017, 2018a and 2018b, 2019).
III Concept of the online edition
1. How Marx and Engels wrote “Feuerbach” in 3 or 4 stages of writing and editing
We distinguish 3 or 4 stages of writing and editing by Marx and Engels. All manuscripts of “Feuerbach” were created in the following way:
(1) Marx dictated and Engels wrote the base text (first draft) with so many immediate variants, on a manuscript page’s left column.
(2) Engels then edited the text. He deleted, supplemented, and replaced the base text in the right column of the same page.
(3) Then, Marx edited the base text.
(4) Sometimes, Engels would again take up Marx’s corrected base text to improve the original.
(5) Page 25 is the only page on which Marx and Engels alternated writing the base text in the left column. (First Engels, then Marx, then Engels.)
The descriptions on each page of “Convolute to Feuerbach” were likely written in the order above. However, although the formation order of the first stage text with immediate variants is continuous across pages, the text in the right column is not necessarily continuous. This will be mentioned later (III-2).
2. Special features of the online edition
Our online edition consists of several layers.
The most important elements of our online edition are found in the following three layers:
The first layer includes the base text of the “Feuerbach” manuscript and includes the deleted and supplemented texts of immediate variants, color-coded for ease of reading.
The second layer consists of the base text without immediate variants.
The third layer includes the base text with its color-coded late variants, which are further divided into four categories. Layer 3-1 (L) contains the base text and late variants written by Engels in the left column of the manuscripts. Layer 3-1 (R) contains the late variants written by Engels in the right column of the manuscripts. Layer 3-2 (L) contains the base text and late variants written by Marx in the left column of the manuscripts. Layer 3-2 (R) contains the late variants written by Marx in the right column of the manuscripts.
In the first layer, users will be able to examine concretely and in detail the process of Marx's dictation to Engels. The second layer will show the entire picture of the first draft of the “Feuerbach” manuscripts. Layers 3-1 to 3-2 (L & R) will help users to investigate the work undertaken by Marx and Engels toward completing their materialistic conception of history between 1845 and 1846. Because every text from the three layers is linked to the original manuscript, i.e. its fine image, users can not only freely compare layers of the texts but also compare the online project team’s deciphering of words against corresponding words from the original manuscripts.
The symbols and colors used in online edition must be now explained.
For the 1st Layer:
① Deleted text of immediate variants is in yellow.
② Inserted (i.e. supplementary) text of immediate variants is in green.
③ Words marked with @ are the immediate variants that the online editors have confirmed independently from the editors of MEGA② I/5.
For the 3rd Layers:
① Deleted text of late variants is in grey.
② Replaced text of late variants is in pink.
③ Inserted (i.e. supplementary) text of late variants is in green.
The green color is also used sparingly in the first layer.
Words or parts that the editors could not decipher are in red.
Engels’ writings in the right column are in blue font.
In addition, we distinguish between two fonts. The font Arial is for Marx’s handwriting. We typically use Times New Roman.
We have taken the following points into consideration:
(1) Readers should be able to follow the working processes between the manuscripts’ left and right columns in detail. Therefore, visitors to our page should be able to look at these columns simultaneously. They can also take a photo of the original manuscript and compare texts this way. The break points in the online edition correspond to those in the manuscripts, making it easy for visitors to compare our online edition to the original. In these ways, our online edition differs from the MEGA② I/5.
(2) The base text of the manuscript is different from the text published in the MEGA② I/5 printed edition. The latter has been improved by Marx and Engels. To reproduce the base text, the editors of this online edition did the following:
 deleted the text that was written in the right column;
 returned the replaced text to the original;
 re-inserted the deleted text;
 deleted the inserted text.
The resulting text, the base text of the “Feuerbach” manuscript , is “Layer 2.” If we add the elements of the deleted parts of the immediate variants to “Layer 2,” we are left with “Layer 1.”
(3) Engels’ first improvement to the base text. “Layer 3-1” (left and right columns) contains these improvements.
(4) The reproduction of Marx’s editing. Marx edited both the left and right columns. All edits by Marx are displayed in the “Arial” font, and in the right column they are blue-colored. “Layer 3-2 (left and right)"” contains Marx’s improvements.
(5) The reproduction of the Engels’ editing follows (4) and is contained in Layer 3-3 (left and right columns).
In addition, we included an “End-Layer” (Layer 4) and “All layers” in our online edition. The editing process of The German Ideology repeated the deletion, substitution, and supplementation of text in the “Feuerbach” manuscripts. The places in the text which changed in the course of editing or were supplemented and were not deleted can be found naturally in the “End-Layer” (Layer 4) – that is, in the final text of the manuscript. However, this layer does not contain the deleted parts of the text. Therefore, our online edition also contains a special layer which we called “All layers.” This layer contains everything which was deleted during the editing process. This layer is supposed to resemble the text image of the original manuscript.
Finally, we mention the order in which the texts of the three manuscripts were produced – H5a, H5b and H5c. The order in which they were produced is as follows:
H5a (Layer 1, Layer 2) → H5b (Layer 1, Layer 2) → H5c (Layer 1, Layer 2).
However, it cannot be said that the text written in the right column of the manuscripts was produced in this same order. Some parts of the texts were probably written in the right column of H5a after reconstructing the three manuscripts, H5a, H5b and H5c, and compiling the three chapters of The German Ideology. For example, in the last three pages of H5a, the part later titled “Bauer” by Marx was transferred to the II. Chapter “Saint Bruno” during this reconstruction, and instead a new text entitled later by Marx “Feuerbach” was written in the right column. Other independent comments in the right column of H5a, H5b and H5c may have been written since the reconstruction (See, MEGA② I/5, pp. 841-850).
1) In our online edition, one can read the base text of the “Feuerbach” manuscript and determine in a relatively easy fashion why and how the text was improved and corrected.
2) In our online edition, discussions on the variants of the manuscript will proceed properly because our online edition will the layers of variants accessible not only to Marx and Engels researchers in Germany, but across the world.
3) In our online edition, the question of the Feuerbach manuscripts’ true authorship can be examined thoroughly and empirically.
August 23, 2019
Bendien, Jurriaan 2018: https://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviews/15919_a-worldto-win-the-life-and-thought-of-karl-marx-by-sven-eric-liedman-reviewed-bydavid-mclellan/ (comment on the 27th June 2018 at 6:30 pm)
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