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New Left Review 81, May-June 2013

franco moretti


The modern bourgeoisie, reads the famous encomium in the Communist Manifesto, ‘has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions . . . agglomerated population, centralized means of production . . . conjured whole peoples out of the ground’ [*] This essay is drawn from The Bourgeois: Between History and Literature, published this month by Verso in tandem with a companion work by Franco Moretti, Distant Reading. Pyramids, aqueducts, cathedrals; conducted, agglomerated, centralized . . . Clearly, for Marx and Engels, the ‘revolutionary role’ of the bourgeoisie lies in what this class has done. But there is also another, more intangible reason for their praise:

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Franco Moretti, ‘Fog’, NLR 81: £3

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