CHAPTER SEVEN

Translation and interpretation:
Marx's words

Words and meanings

It is widely appreciated that 'translation is interpretation'. What is not so widely understood is that all interpretation is translation. Even in situations where the reader is a native speaker of the language in which the text is written, the activity of reading - deriving meaning from words - necessarily involves a process of translation. That is, reading is an active process through which various forms of difference are negotiated, so meaning - not just language - is 'translated'. The outcome of these negotiations, perhaps surprisingly, is not sameness or similarity or 'non-difference', but rather difference yet again, often rather self‐ deceptively and one-sidedly disguised as 'agreement'.

'When we understand at all, we understand differently.' 1 This is a principle that comes to us from the linguistic philosophers Paul Ricoeur and Hans-Georg Gadamer, and in this chapter I mean to develop its application in connection with my recently published translations of classic texts by Marx. 2 These are the first genuinely new, line-by-line retranslations of works variously put into English between 1888 and the 1930s. A number of new editions done from the 1960s onwards contain differences in translation but are not what I consider to be serious attempts to look at the original texts (which have themselves undergone scholarly changes) and to recast the thoughts therein for a contemporary audience.

This brings me back to the practical implications of the

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