Rereading Reading Capital
I do not believe there can be “Althusserians” in the strict sense of disciples of Al-
thusser. One can only reiterate the questions he asked, and from them, fabricate
yves duroux
As he prepared his own contribution to the seminar that would become Lire
le Capital, on October 2, 1963, Althusser wrote to Franca Madonia: “I’m work-
ing hard, and with good results; I’m reading Capital closely. Fi nally, I’m en-
tering the citadel” (Lettres à Franca 459). After a period of intensive, even
manic productivity in August– September 1962, in which he wrote many of the
texts that would comprise Pour Marx in the span of a few weeks (and which
Franca would translate in 1965), in the fall of 1964 Althusser set course with
his “jeunes chiens,” the precocious group of students at the École normale
supérieure de la rue d’Ulm gathered around him for a seminar in spring term
1965, undertaking the philosophical reading of Marx’s Capital that Althusser
himself had previously called for in Pour Marx. The result, for the first time
in Althusser’s experience, was a truly “collective work, a collective proj ect in
which each working on his own reaches the same results by the most unex-
pected paths” (Lettres à Franca 605). The seminar, collectively or ga nized by
Althusser, Étienne Balibar, Yves Duroux, Jacques Rancière, and Jean- Claude
Milner, culminated in texts by Althusser, Balibar, Rancière, and Pierre Ma-
cherey (Roger Establet, absent from the École, would later submit a text on
the structure of Capital). Working again at a frenetic pace by November 1963,
Althusser could rightfully observe: “What I’m producing,” he wrote to Franca,
“is incredible both in quantity and quality. I have so much to write, so much
to say! . . . I’ve never been so conscious of the terrible danger contact with
ideas represents— and at the same time the extraordinary power that it gives”
(Lettres à Franca 482, 518). Each of the contributors produced works that, in
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