Selected Works

Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s Selected Works


The Historical Materialism book series at Brill is initiating a project to translate and publish Alfred Sohn-Rethel’s most important work.

Alfred Sohn-Rethel (1899-1990) was a Marxian economist and philosopher. He is best known for developing the notion of ‘real abstraction’, which influenced the work of the Frankfurt school (Adorno), Autonomism (Virno), the Neue Marx-Lektüre, and has recently been the subject of renewed interest.  As Sohn-Rethel himself noted, the idea of ‘real abstraction’ was the core idea he developed, revising it over the course of several decades. Yet the English translations of Sohn-Rethel’s work are hard to find and only offer a partial grasp of his thought, particularly the development of ‘real abstraction’. The selected works will remedy this situation by translating Sohn-Rethel’s most important writings. It will also help contextualize his relationship with the Frankfurt School, Autonomism and the Neue Marx-Lektüre .

The Selected Works will broken down into the following five volumes:

Volume 1: A Critical edition of Intellectual and Manual Labour. This edition will make Sohn-Rethel’s magnum opus readily available in English in a new form. This will be done by incorporate changes Sohn-Rethel made in the subsequent Italian and German editions of Intellectual and Manual Labour. It will also include a few notes he made in an annotated edition of English translation of Intellectual and Manual Labour which clarify certain passages on the epistemological dimension of real abstraction.

Volume 2: A reprint of The Economy and Class Structure of German Fascism with a new introduction and afterword.

Volume 3: Will consist in translations of Sohn-Rethel’s full-length German publications such as Warenform und Denkform and Das Geld, die bare Münze des Apriori.

Volume 4: A collection of essays that will complement Volumes 1-3 by including the essays that mark the development of the idea of ‘real abstraction’, prior to and following the publication of Intellectual and Manual Labour.  It will also feature Sohn-Rethel’s writings on the Frankfurt School, and other items of interest including his essays on technology and fascism.

Volume 5: Will consist in a translation of his correspondence with Theodor W. Adorno.

Those interested in helping translate, edit and otherwise contribute to the project should contact Chris O’Kane at


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