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Failed Translations: Textuality of Capital against Walter Benjamin's »The Task of the Translator«

Michael Marder

Abstract

In order to stage a sustained encounter between literary theory and Marxian political economy, this paper initiates a dialogue between Walter Benjamin's »The Task of the Translator« on one hand, and Marx's Capital, on the other. I will theorize the two-fold transition from the language of labor to value to price in the latter work as an exercise in economic translation haunted by and predicated upon the untranslatability of use-value, or pure difference. In light of this initial outline, I will contend that the specific intentionality of capital, the predominance of the »pure language« of value, and the discursive construction of mainstream economics violate the immanent grounding of economic and non-economic systems of signification.

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