Call for Translators and Readers

As I announced here a month or so back, PM Press has decided to move ahead with the oft-mentioned Collected Works of Bakunin project, and I've been asked to coordinate and edit the thing. The prospect is equally exciting and daunting.

I'm in the early stages of planning the introductory sampler volume and getting a general sense of what could, and what should, be included in the subsequent volumes. My inclination is to be as inclusive as possible, but the "possible" will depend a good deal on how much participation there is in the translation and editing process.

I've volunteered for the blame and a good deal of labor. I'm happy to spread around the rest of the labor, and much of the credit. The project will need both translators and readers, and can probably accommodate a range of levels of expertise. The works range from very short to book-length, and if it can be sustained the project might well run ten years or more. So if you have any interest in participating, please let me know, and we'll figure out how to match your available time and skills with some part of the project.

I'll be rolling out a blog with some new working translations and archive finds in the next week or two. And I'll follow that up with a project email list once we have a few folks onboard.

More on the Bakunin project

Thanks to those who have responded. Here's a few more details about the project:

Bakunin's works were published in nine languages, with the majority in French, and then most of the works in other languages were translated into French for the CD-ROM that was issued in 2000. Ideally, we'll be able to have everything carefully checked against the original language, but, given the translators available and the grassroots nature of the project, we may well take advantage of the French translations to develop working drafts in English.

It looks to me like the division of labor is likely to involve:

* translators to work up raw, working translations
* readers familiar with the original languages to check translations
* English readers of varying degrees of expertise to check readability
* editors to maintain consistency

My ideal case scenario would involve a bit more collaboration and cross-checking than volumes generated by the movement sometimes get, just to make sure that we're producing something that will have lasting value, both to scholars and activists concerned with our history. I think we might learn some things about practice in the process.

To issue a volume every year would require the equivalent of *completing* a couple of pages each day, scattered among the various participants, although ideally the first year should involve about twice the work, so that the first and second volumes can follow fairly regularly on the heels of the introductory collection. That means that small contributions -- the equivalent of a couple of pages each month -- could cover the ground, assuming we have a number of people able and willing to split the load. Also, if we are able to split up the workload to the point where it isn't devouring individuals -- and we all, myself included, have plenty of other projects on our plate -- then it actually shouldn't be any particular challenge to also translate a number of related collectivist anarchist texts, from Guillaume, Schwitzguebel, de Paepe, etc. and fill in a fairly major hole in the English-language literature.

I've committed myself to the job of doing a hefty chunk of translation, roughly 25% of what I imagine will be necessary for each volume, and then editing, completing, standardizing, etc., the rest of the material as needed. I'm willing -- happy really, given our need for more translation -- to work with less experienced translators, so I would encourage folks who would like to give it a try to say so, and we'll find something manageable to start with.

I'm hoping that some more experienced folks with full plates will be willing to consult a bit along the way.

At the moment, this is all on "labor of love" terrain, but it seems like an eminently crowd-fundable sort of project, at least at a level where we could get translators some level of compensation -- though the level will necessarily depend on the support. I'm happy to sweeten the deal for participants with the some early contributor-only pamphlet releases or hand-bound volumes, depending on the degree of contribution, from my Corvus Editions project.


  1. I'd be grateful for an update on this project. Is it still proceeding towards publication?

    1. Yes, things are moving gradually ahead. The initial Reader is steadily coming together.

  2. Hello, I just stumbled upon this and I've very excited and interested in the project. I had read that AK Press or PM Press was doing a translation, but couldn't find any more information about it.
    Recently, I've been trying to read all of Bakunin's work that is translated into english as well as secondary material on Bakunin. Unfortunately, I don't read/speak French (or any other language) and only have limited access to Bakunin's entire works. So, I'm very exited about his entire work being translated into english.
    I apologize if you say this else where on this site, but are you still looking for assistance in terms of english readers? I'm not sure what assistance, if any, I could lend, but I'm interested.