When he was finally ready to send the manuscript of Das Kapital to the printers, Karl Marx confessed his anxieties to his friend Friedrich Engels by mentioning a short story by Honoré de Balzac, The Hidden Masterpiece. It was the story of an old and famous painter who decided to end his career with a revolutionary painting that promised to be “the most complete representation of reality,” but that to contemporary critics was but a chaotic assembly of colors and forms.
Marx’s fears were unfounded, because more than one hundred and forty years after its publication, Das Kapital remains, with all its problems and imperfections, the most complete representation of the world under capitalism. Alas, it is also one of those great books that everybody talks about but few have actually read.
If anyone is interested in joining this fall (2014) please contact Justin McBrien (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Go to UVa Kapital site