Together with Louis Althusser's book For Marx, Reading Capital represents one of the foundational texts of the school of "structuralist Marxism" which transformed the face of modern philosophy and social theory. Presided over by the magnetic and intellectually coruscating figure of Althusser, the structuralist Marxists attempted no less than an intellectual revolution against dominant interpretations of Marx. Seeking to cleanse Marx of all Hegelian impurities and recast his thought on a rigorously scientific basis, in this work Althusser and one of his most brilliant students and colleagues, Etienne Balibar, subjected Marx's method in Capital, his critique of classical political economy, and the fundamental terms of historical materialism, to searching textual analysis and challenging conceptual reconstruction. Inaugurating a new way of reading Marx that was to prove both intensely stimulating and capable of generating fierce controversy, Reading Capital is a work that cannot be bypassed by anyone interested in Marxism, and in theory more generally, in this century.
Louis Althusser was born in Algeria in 1918 and died in France in 1990. His other publications in English include For Marx (1969, reissued as a Verso Classic in 1996), Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists (1990), Machiavelli and Us, and the Spectre of Hegel (1997). Etienne Balibar is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-X. His other publications in English include The Philosophy of Marx (1995) and, with Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class (1991).