In the early 1840s a group of peasants warily gathers wood in a forest in western Germany. Hushed and hurried, they take care not to cut any living growth, only collecting the fallen twigs and branches from the forest floor. But soon above their rustling comes the beating sound of hooves—distant, approaching, suddenly thundering—and the peasants scream and flee as they are clubbed, hacked, and trampled by a mounted gang of forest wardens. Throughout this scene—the opening of Raoul Peck’s 2017 film The Young Karl Marx—the eponymous protagonist reads in voice-over from some of his earliest published writings criticizing new laws that criminalized such customary practices of wood gathering, while in the next scene the young Marx and his fellow newspaper editors at the Rheinische Zeitung are besieged and arrested by the police because of his polemical reporting on those very laws. Peck’s decision to offer these two scenes...
Dispossession and Totality
christopher geary is a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Berkeley, with designated emphases in critical theory and in Renaissance and early modern studies. He is preparing a dissertation on early capitalist aesthetics and eighteenth-century British and Irish fiction.
Christopher Geary; Dispossession and Totality. Qui Parle 1 June 2023; 32 (1): 267–283. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10418385-10428014
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