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On the Nature of Marx's ThingsTranslation as Necrophilology$
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Jacques Lezra

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279425

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279425.001.0001

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(p.104) 3. Necrophilology
On the Nature of Marx's Things

Jacques Lezra

Fordham University Press

This chapter turns to the problem of equivalence posed in Marx's theory of value. It focuses on the ontological contingency at the core of the concept of general equivalence: that because any object, produced by human labor or naturally occurring, may reveal itself over the course of time to be value-carrying, and thus to work like and as a commodity, any object at hand may step, according to laws not given in the object and not given necessarily, into the role of commodity, and thence into the sovereign role of general equivalent. Herman Melville's “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” written from the center of what would become global capital, Wall Street; and Jorge Luis Borges's translation, “Bartleby, el escribiente,” helps to show how this contingent determination shifts the question of abstraction on which Marx's analysis of equivalence turns toward the figure and dynamics of translation.

Keywords:   equivalence, theory of value, general equivalence, Herman Melville, Jorge Luis Borges, Bartleby, Wall Street, translation, necrophilology

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