Marx-Engels Correspondence 1873

Engels to Marx


Source: Marx Engels On Art and Literature, Progress Publishers, 1976;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

November 29, 1873

Yesterday I read the chapter on factory legislation in the French translation of [Capital]. With all due respect for the skill with which it has been translated into elegant French, I am sorry for that beautiful chapter. All its power and life’s blood have been sent to the devil. The mediocre writer castrates the language in order to express himself with a certain degree of elegance. It is becoming increasingly difficult to think in this modern constrained French. Already the sentence inversions, necessitated almost everywhere by pedantic formal logic, deprive the presentation of all its force and liveliness. I think it would be a grave mistake to use the French version as a basis for an English translation. The strength of expression in the original need not be diminished in English; whatever is inevitably lost from the truly dialectical passages will be balanced by the greater power and tenseness of the English language in many other passages.

Herr Kokosky, by the way, excuses his miserable translation by declaring that I write in the — very difficult “Liebknechtian-Marxian style.” What a compliment!