Wheen shows that, far from being a dry economic treatise, Das Kapital is like a vast Gothic novel whose heroes are enslaved by the monster they created: capitalism. Furthermore, Wheen argues, as long as capitalism endures, Das Kapital demands to be read and understood.
©2006 Francis Wheen; (P)2007 Tantor
Addicted to Audible since 2009
Marx is a genius and it's a shame his brilliant ideas never got into the hands of the right people or culture for that matter. However, this particular audio book is a tad on the boring side and the narration certainly didn't help any.
"Not quite full marks"
Given the unwieldy length of its subject, Francis Wheen’s book is remarkably brief, and possibly not the most cost-effective use of an Audible credit. On the other hand, it does tell you all you probably need to know about Marx’s strangely influential tome. Wheen paints a picture of Marx as a chaotic, pretentious fibber who knocked together just enough material to please his editor, but never got around to completing a work that has nevertheless attained the touchstone quality of a religious text. He then undermines ‘Das Kapital’ in almost every particular: not in a polemic way, but simply by evoking the mind-boggling abstruseness of its economic argument (which even Harold Wilson never bothered to read) and then relating the manifold ways in which subsequent history has proved this ‘scientific’ text wrong in virtually all of its predictions. It’s therefore perplexing that Wheen ends by suggesting, on the strength of nothing but the same romantic impulse that spawned ‘Das Kapital’ itself, that Marx may have his day yet.
Since Wheen has a pleasing and suitably sardonic speaking voice, it’s a shame that he didn’t relate the text himself. Simon Vance’s performance is all right as a substitute but, though he obviously boned up on how to pronounce German consonants and vowels, his efforts at German intonation often resemble calamitous car-crashes. You’d have thought that the narrator brief for an audio-book concerning a much-quoted German author and German text would somewhere include the words, “Must speak German”.
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