For an English edition, aimed—hopefully, for my publisher’s sake—at an audience a little broader than libraries and academics, it seems to me that the structure of the edition itself ought to help guide readers and researchers through the wealth of material. The initial proposal was to begin with an anthology for more casual readers, and for those who want to get a taste of what the larger project will have to offer. But, ideally, each step should also fulfill the functions of satisfying a particular group of readers, while tiding the completists over until the next stage. Having now at least looked briefly at the majority of the texts included in the CD-ROM edition, it seems to me that we have a fairly straightforward set of categories:
- THE MAJOR (PARTIALLY) PUBLISHED WORKS: Significant, stand-alone sections of The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution (from which God and the State was drawn) and The Political Theology of Mazzini and the International have published been published in English, but in both cases large manuscript sections remain to be translated. Statism and Anarchy has been published twice, and the more recent Cambridge University edition may be both complete and accurate enough that no new translation is needed. But, no matter how much retranslation seems to be required, a complete and well-annotated presentation of these three major works seems to be a priority second only to producing a representative anthology of Bakunin’s writings.
- OTHER PUBLISHED WORKS AND KEY MANUSCRIPT WRITINGS: Beyond the large manuscripts which have seen at least some publication, there is a wealth of published articles, letters to periodicals, transcripts of addresses and documents from the various organizations in which Bakunin participated. And there there are unpublished manuscripts which are likely to be of particular interest to contemporary readers. It seems to me that this material—which ranges from Bakunin’s earliest writings in the late 1830s until his last productions in the 1870s—could easily be presented chronologically in a number of annotated volumes, including works by other writers only where it is essential.
- CORRESPONDENCE: Bakunin’s correspondence was extensive, and over a thousand letters have survived. At least a couple of well-indexed volumes seems essential to a serious Collected Works project.
- CONTEXTUAL WRITINGS: Both previous editions have attempted to incorporate enough material by other writers to give a context for Bakunin’s own writings, particularly in the period of the First International. The contextual material seems to be of two sorts: Material relating to the conflicts in the First International and works by other collectivist anarchists which expands on Bakunin’s work. My sense is that both functions might be well served by a translation of Guillaume’s The International: Documents and Recollections and perhaps some sort of anthology of collectivist anarchism, collecting key works by Guillame, César De Paepe, Adhémar Schwitzguébel, etc.
- MINOR MANUSCRIPT WRITINGS RESEARCH AIDS, BIBLIOGRAPHY, ETC: If we find that there has been support for publishing a number of the other categories of material, then I imagine it will only make sense to make the effort to translate whatever is left over, and to produce the sorts of cumulative indexes, complete historical bibliographies, collections of biographical material, etc., that are likely to have been practically collecting themselves over a number of years of research.