Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Specters of Marx” as Want to Read:
Specters of Marx
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Specters of Marx

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,989 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Prodigiously influential, Jacques Derrida gave rise to a comprehensive rethinking of the basic concepts and categories of Western philosophy in the latter part of the twentieth century, with writings central to our understanding of language, meaning, identity, ethics and values.

In 1993, a conference was organized around the question, 'Whither Marxism?', and Derrida was inv
Paperback, 258 pages
Published May 25th 2006 by Routledge (first published January 1st 1993)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Specters of Marx, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Specters of Marx

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
Certain Soviet philosophers told me in Moscow a few years ago: the best translation of perestroika was still "deconstruction."

Specters of Marx sustains five star prose and luminous ideas. Unfortunately i became lost along the way. maybe my effort slipped. The opening program is truly delightful, Hamlet and The Manifesto amble about, offering a gleaming tribute to Marx always a heady feat, and one Derrida performs with panache.

The subsequent sections are a somewhat more mixed bag. Derrida scoffs
Dec 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
A spectre is haunting Europe, the spectre of Communism – so begins the Communist Manifesto, and Derrida takes that line as the basis of his deconstruction of Marxism. One of the spectres used here to help make sense of Marx is Hamlet’s ghost. And a lot of time is spent discussing Hamlet, much more than I would have expected.

Now, I’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately, and so decided it was important to read. Earlier in the year I read ‘Haunting the Knowledge Economy’ – a terribly intere
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, I accept that having Derrida on a list is close to showing off – only because he has a reputation as such a 'difficult' writer, and here Derrida, the BIG name of deconstructionism turns his eye on Marx, the BIG name of 20th century politics to argue that we can't understand the current world without Marx, and we can't fix it without Marx. I'm not sure what happened in the 1990s but a whole bunch of philosophers came out of the woodwork to proclaim a form of Marxism: Derrida's is among the mo ...more
we see here, after tearing into fukuyama, by way of kojeve, by way of Shakespeare, that there is a sense of justice that is indeconstructible. that's damned interesting.
Karl Steel
Aug 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: theory
I mostly concur with this review.

If, as one of the reviewers below notes, Specters of Marx concerns methodology (or deconstruction as a whole) rather than Marx per se (or, less importantly, Fukuyama [as easy a target here as he was for Zizek:]), then we have to wonder what it does at all? While Derrida explains, several times, that he wants to hold out the Messianic hope of what he might have called a 'Marxism worthy of the name' (or indeed a Marxism beyond the name of Marx], and that he does n
writing lots and saying little
William West
May 08, 2012 rated it liked it
I don't know if I would call this a profound book about Marx, but that's not to say that there is no profundity to be found here. Ultimately, this work may be more revealing about its own author, but Derrida is himself a worthy subject.
Based on a plenary address Derrida gave at a UC Riverside conference entitled “Whither Marxism?” in 1993, Derrida performs close-readings of passages from three of Marx's texts; “The German Ideology,” “Capital, Volume 1,” and the Manifesto. He relates Marx's writ
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Someone, I don’t know who, said I should read Derrida’s Specters of Marx, finally. Why finally? What does the finality of this reading of Specters of Marx entail? That I should at last read Specters of Marx having attempted and deferred reading it two (perhaps three, perhaps more) times before. That perhaps, this time the reading would differ and I would not defer reading yet again in the endless repetition of picking up reading and deferring? That I should read it once, consume it, and extract ...more
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It is interesting to take a look at the different claims about this book. I guess the case here is that there's not a single Derrida for all, but instead a brand new Derrida for every reader. However, my reading (influenced predominantly by Heidegger, Levinas and Nietzsche) treats Derrida as a political philosopher, in this (and not the only) case investigating the hub beyond Marx' arguably gothic attitude, which after a brilliant juxtaposing with Hamlet is revealed as something more than merely ...more
Oct 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
After the fall of the Soviet Union, a conference was held in UC Berkeley to discuss the current state and future of Marxism around the world. One of these lecturers was Jacques Derrida, and his speeches are collected here in Specters of Marxism. What Derrida was hoping to achieve with his lectures is unclear, and even more unclear to me is what this book is supposed to be about.

Specters of Marx derives its name from the first sentence off the Communist Manifesto: “A spectre is haunting Europe --
As a reading of Marx this is terrible. This is slightly alleviated by Derrida's deafening refrain that he is only using "a certain Marx", but once I fully ingested his triangulation of spectrality and the inapparent (or felt like I did, anyway), how they haunt the veil of presence, his misreadings and intellectual errors RE basic Marxist concepts become small potatoes. I'm still chewing on this book, which is all I've read from Derrida since I skimmed Structure, Sign & Play as an undergradua ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it liked it
It was REALLY tough read and i still don't get half of it :P
John Kemp
Oct 26, 2015 rated it liked it
"The time is out of joint" says Derrida reading Marx through Shakespeare. This is obviously at least as true ( if truth is a thing) now as it was when he wrote this at the time of the collapse of the Evil Empire (persisting in the none-too-spectral form of Putin). What Derrida mourns, it quickly becomes clear, is not the death of Marxism-Leninism but the apparent eclipse of Marx (as critical thinker) in this calamity (though where the distinction might lie is a more troubled matter). Is it fanci ...more
Wendy Liu
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: capitalism-etc
I like to think of this book as a sandwich. The bread: extremely thick slices of abstruse and solipsistic pontification inspired, vaguely, by the word 'specter', with random words from Greek, French, Latin, and German sprinkled throughout like seeds. The filling: some fairly lucid thoughts on the state of capitalism at the time and why Fukuyama was wrong about it being "the end of history". The filling is great, but you first have to wade through many pages in which Derrida explores every possib ...more
Jens Gärtner
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La primera parte, «Inyunciones de Marx», que pone las ideas que atravesarán todo el libro, resulta, incluso hoy, novedosa. Incisiva a la vez que simpática. Al principio, como tópicamente se dice de El Capital (sin ser este el texto predominante), resulta densa y abstrusa, pero conforme se pasan las páginas, aparecen las cuestiones con claridad casi palpable: ¿Qué significa decir que el comunismo está muerto si su naturaleza ha sido siempre espectral («Un espectro recorre Europa»)? ¿Qué implicaci ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My initial review was succinct, and to the untrained ear, somewhat obscene. This book impressed me greatly, and I'd love to hear the lectures from which it was transcribed someday.

It's no secret that Derrida indulges a tendency to ramble. Specters of Marx is full of really interesting ideas about the evolution of Marxist theory from it's conception to the print date of this book. Especially when the author confronts those situations where men have diverged from the spirit of Marxism even while a
Andrew Smith
Aug 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
I was disappointed with this book. I suppose I had high expectations, given Derrida's stature and importance. If the book were by a graduate student I would have many compliments. Notably, Derrida pays consistent attention to Marx's frequent use of ghostly metaphors - from the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto ("A spectre is haunting Europe") to the first great metaphor of Capital (the "phantom-like objectivity" of commodities) to the opening metaphors of the 18th Brumaire (the tradition ...more
Akbar Madan
Oct 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
أطياف ماركس
جاك دريدا
لست ماركسياً ، عبارة دريدا ليس لكون الماركسية تهمة دنيئة أو قذرة ، بل لان دريدا اللامنتمي للايدلوجيا غير متحمس للأطر الحزبية والسياسية ، هذا الانفكاك الدريدي والمتمرضع في الخارج لتكون الرؤية بمستوى الحدث ، انه استحضار للشبح للمثول أمام التاريخ ، مع انه مستحضر عبر المخلوقات اللامرئية الى مساحة المشاهدة وحضور المعاينة ، استحضار للنقد والتفكيك والموائمة مع الأفكار التي سبقته وعاصرته وتجاوزته ، حيث لازالت افتراضاتها تحاور الوضع السياسي في صيغة تكوين الدولة أهي دولة شيوعية أم لي
Lukas Szrot
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Having earned my BA in philosophy from a heavily analytic department back in 2004, and now immersing myself in academic sociology (as a grad student) and the natural sciences (as a curious, freethinking person) reading Derrida was a sort of delightful blasphemy for me. Honestly, his prose is dense and meandering, and reading him was akin to a treasure hunt (some of my less charitable colleagues have used other analogies that feature a shovel) where immersing myself in the text, I could on occasi ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Would there be then some exorcism at the opening of Capital? When the curtain rises on the raising of a curtain? From the first chapter of its first book? However potential it may appear, and however preparatory, however virtual, would this premise of exorcism have developed enough power to sign and seal the whole logic of this great work? Would a conjuration ceremony have scanned the unfolding of an immense critical discourse? Would it have accompanied that discourse, followed or preceded it l ...more
Matt Sautman
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My high rating of Specters of Marx is less to do with Derrida’s prose style- as anyone who is familiar with Derrida’s writing style likely knows, but more so to do with the concept of hauntology that Derrida outlays in this book. My first exposure to hauntology comes from José Esteban Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia, which has been highly influential on my own academic work, and I have encountered the concept multiple times since then. The concept as Derrida conceives hauntology in Specters of Marx tran ...more
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm a little surprised (though I probably shouldn't be...) that none of the other reviews on here mention anything about Derrida's take on Stirner (which composes almost half of the book). It seems Derrida has fundamentally misunderstood Stirner (most noticeably the claim that Stirner was a Hegelian through and through), and I think it actually stems from the same seriousness of Marx's reading, that is, not having any clue that Der Einzige und sein Eigentum has a strong hint of parody and mocker ...more
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: routledge
It's not about the Marx, it's about the specters, and their curious ontological status.

I admit, I haven't though much about ontology until recently. I suppose it didn't occur to me that there were questions of value tied up with questions of being; that people connect notions of worth to their ontological status. It's a curious metric, especially when thought of quantitatively rather than qualitatively, and I'm still not sure that it, per se, matters. But if it does, then Derrida's "hauntology"
David Anderson
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Anyone looking for useful insights regarding re-thinking Marxist theory for the 21st Century or for anything connected to concrete political action what-so-ever should avoid this. But if you want dense, difficult, verbose (albeit poetic) lit. crit. readings Marx intertwining him with Shakespeare, by all means, have at it. Me? I'm trading this in at my local used bookstore for something more substantial.
Manuel Monroy Correa
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: filosofia
Este es un libro que hay que seguir leyendo por cuestiones en las que la deconstrucción, como dice Derrida, es justicia y ésta es siembre un advenir. Sin duda es un texto que hay que leer al lado de La deconstrucción en una cáscara de nuez de John Caputo, en la que Derrida participa en una mesa redonda y temas que toca en este texto importantísimo se vinculan con una interesante discusión sobre lo mesiánico, lo religioso y la fe (como Derrida entiende estas nociones).
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Derrida I ever read; it splintered me then, but in a way that required me to address the splinter through study rather than rejecting it. I had also read very little Marx at that point, so the book really did function as a specter haunting from my future reading. Kind and large thanks to Prof. Wise for taking a group on a journey into this book and to Prof. Morton who pushed me along in preparation for the subsequent revisitations!
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it
“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” - John Maynard Keynes
Henry Foster
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
So yeah, I grabbed this book 'cause I needed some more theory on hauntology and I wanted to read the OG who came up with the term. If, like me, you're willing to see how to apply the term to the works of art, you should go and read some Mark Fisher. Specters of Marx is a fairly informative read, tho it's not really a prime source on hauntology.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Extremely difficult. A dense book that requires extensive knowledge. A reading to accompany you in the strenuous journey of acquiring knowledge throughout the years. His writing style is amazing. Too much food for thought. It is uncertain what my first contact with the text actually gave me, I have to return to it again and again. It did, however, get me into thinking..
Jan 28, 2016 marked it as to-read-in-part
Shelves: maesfilo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Reading Capital
  • Did Someone Say Totalitarianism?: 5 Interventions in the (Mis)Use of a Notion
  • Being and Event
  • A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present
  • Aesthetics and Politics
  • Difference and Repetition
  • Écrits
  • Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings
  • The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume I: Consumption
  • Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life
  • Early Writings
  • Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left
  • Philosophy in a Time of Terror: Dialogues with Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was the founder of “deconstruction,” a way of criticizing not only both literary and philosophical texts but also political institutions. Although Derrida at times expressed regret concerning the fate of the word “deconstruction,” its popularity indicates the wide-ranging influence of his thought, in philosophy, in literary criticism and theory, in art and, in particular, architect ...more