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Guy Debord: Revolution in the Service of Poetry


Guy Debord: Revolution in the Service of Poetry Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Writer, artist, filmmaker, provocateur, revolutionary, and impresario of the Situationist International, Guy Debord shunned the apparatus of publicity he dissected so brilliantly in his most influential work, The Society of the Spectacle. In this ambitious and innovative biography, Vincent Kaufmann places Debord's very hostility toward the inquisitive, biographical gaze at the center of an investigation into his subject's diverse output-from his earliest films to his landmark works of social theory and political provocation-and the poetic sensibility that informed both his work and his life.

Instead of providing a conventional day-to-day account of Debord's life, Kaufmann deftly locates his subject within the historical and intellectual context of the radical social, political, and artistic movements in which he participated. He traces Debord's development as an intellectual: his involvement with the lettrist movement in the early 1950s, his central role in the Situationist International from 1957 to 1971 and in the events of May 1968, and the productive and frequently misunderstood period between the dissolution of the situationists and his suicide, during which time Debord clarified the rules of his war against inauthenticity.

As Kaufmann makes clear, for Debord political thought and action were inseparable from aesthetics and poetic expression. Whether envisioning the recovery of a lost, protocommunist age of authenticity and transparency in The Society of the Spectacle or critically assessing the possibility of revolution against postmodern capitalism two decades later, Debord advocated and practiced an art of defiance, a concurrently martial and melancholic poetics. Avoiding the mythologies about Debord that both admirers and critics have cultivated, Kaufmann provides a groundbreaking and generous assessment of Debord and his uncompromising struggle against a corrupt civilization.

Book News Annotation:

Kaufmann (French language and literature, U. of St. Gallen, Switzerland) presents a biographical exploration, more thematic than chronological, of the life and work of French radical intellectual, writer, and filmmaker Guy Debord (1931-1994), who is perhaps best known for his The Society of The Spectacle, an influence on the Paris 1968 uprisings, and his founding of the Situationist International. Key themes of the biography include the way that Guy Debord's life and work were united within a single poetics and how that poetics was characterized by a life-long rejection of the demands of the spectacle. This is a paperbound edition of the 2006 English translation of the 2001 work, Guy Debord: La révolution au service de la poésie. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)


The definitive biography of the author of The Society of the Spectacle and a compelling account of his war against inauthenticity.

About the Author

Vincent Kaufmann is professor of French language and literature at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Robert Bononno, a teacher and translator, lives in New York City.

Table of Contents


Introduction: A Reader without Qualities

1. Lost Children

Origins; Scratched Negatives and the Game of Appearances; Passing through Lettrism; Having Boarded at Night the Lightest of Crafts; I wanted to Speak the Beautiful Language of My Century; The Golden Age; Bernard, Bernard, This Bloom of Youth Will Not Last Forever; My Child, My Sister...; No Turning Back; Whatever Was Directly Experienced Has Been Distanced through Representation

2. An Art Without Works

The End of Art; Cartes du Tendre; The Poetics of the Dérive; Psychogeography and Psychoanalysis; Unitary Urbanism: Between Utopia and Architecture

3. The Light Brigade

Means of Communication; The Poetics of Revolution; From Strasbourg to Seovia; the Greater the Fame of Our Arguments, the Greater Our Obscurity; The Last Guardian

4. Strategy

The moving Surface of the River of Time; Descriptions of Battle; How to Be Disliked; Refutations; Considerations on an Assassination; Against Interpretation; Shadows, Secrets, and Mirrors; The Game of War, Gondi

Conclusion: Debord, Against Type




Product Details

Kaufmann, Vincent
University of Minnesota Press
Robert, Bononno
Bononno, Robert
Bononno, Robert
Entertainment & Performing Arts - Movie Directors
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
Revolution in the Se
Publication Date:
9 x 5.88 x 2 in

Related Subjects

Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts
Biography » Literary
Biography » Philosophers
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Humanities » Philosophy » General

Guy Debord: Revolution in the Service of Poetry New Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages University of Minnesota Press - English 9780816644568 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
The definitive biography of the author of The Society of the Spectacle and a compelling account of his war against inauthenticity.
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