Many who have not read Marx have heard that he is “unreadable,” but in this article Humphery McQueen celebrates the colour and humour of Marx’s writing, the use of metaphor, paradox, pun, irony, classical allusion and all the devices of the writer’s art. True, there are passages! the endless manipulation of prices and quantities of coats and cloth in Capital which often add little to the point already made, the obsessive, almost paranoiac bombast of works like Herr Vogt, but some of his prose ranks with the best of its kind, and should be enjoyed. It seems that Marx used these literary devices to achieve a depth of analysis which the normal “scientific” mode of exposition could never achieve.
Source: “Reading the ‘unreadable’ Marx,” © Humphrey McQueen 2005, was written especially for Marx Myths and Legends.
Humphrey McQueen is a freelance historian writing from Canberra.
Humphrey has written numerous works on the history of colonisation in Australia, and the development of the Australian working class and radicalism. His 1970, A New Britannia, An argument concerning the social origins of Australian radicalism and nationalism, has been reprinted numerous times, including the expanded edition published by University of Queensland in 2004.
Humphrey is an active participant in radical political struggles in Australia today and continues to write and publish on a wide variety of topics.
See also: Humphrey McQueen’s Home Page