The Verso Book of Dissent: Revolutionary Words from Three Millennia of Rebellion and Resistance is a compendium of revolt and resistance throughout the ages, updated to include resistance to war and economic oppression from Beijing and Cairo to Moscow and New York City.
To celebrate the release of the new edition - 50% off at the moment as part of our end-of-year sale - we've present a selection of key moments of dissent from the book.
Artist Zoe Beloff's A World Redrawn: Eisenstein and Brecht in Hollywood is a multimedia exploration of the projects undertaken by two Marxist writers who found themselves in Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s. Originally presented as an installation, it comprises three films — Two Marxists in Hollywood, Glass House, and Model Family; all viewable online — as well as drawings, architectural models, and archival materials.
Beloff has now published a book of the same title, which collects images and documents from the installation alongside texts by herself, scholar Hannah Frank, and Esther Leslie — author of Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde — whose essay is reproduced below.
Zoe Beloff, drawing after a still from Ha Ha Ha, a film by Dave Fleischer, 1934.
Har De Har
Laughter, in Walter Benjamin’s words, is “shattered articulation.” Laughter breaks up both words and the body. Everything is disarticulated. A person in movement might be stopped in their tracks. A person speaking has the stream of words cut off. The listener hears only a clatter of stuttering sounds. Laughter is an interruption to the ongoingness of life and meaning. The flow of walking or talking is held up, stymied, while the disruptive event occurs. The body collapses in laughter, contorts and crumples, the face distends, the eyes close, the neck flips back, the arms and legs flail. Animation is often designed to induce laughter, but it also represents it. There are countless animated GIFS that loop a character’s spasms while laughing, the arms clutching the chest, the mouth as wide as can be, the eyes crinkled shut, the explosions of noise. In some depictions, the eyebrows even leave the face and judder in a space above the head for a few moments. The body is outside itself or beside itself, beside itself with laughter.
To celebrate Verso's new paperback edition of Erdmut Wizisla's Benjamin and Brecht: The Story of a Friendship, we present this selection of Walter Benjamin's diary entries on Bertolt Brecht, translated by Anya Bostock, which appeared in Aesthetics and Politics.
Benjamin and Brecht. Svendborg, Denmark, 1934.
4 July. Yesterday, a long conversation in Brecht’s sickroom about my essay "The Author as Producer." Brecht thought the theory I develop in the essay — that the attainment of technical progress in literature eventually changes the function of art forms (hence also of the intellectual means of production) and is therefore a criterion for judging the revolutionary function of literary works — applies to artists of only one type, the writers of the upper bourgeoisie, among whom he counts himself.
The Storyteller: Tales Out of Loneliness gathers for the first time the fiction of the legendary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin. Each text in the book is accompanied by a Paul Klee illustration. Below, Stuart Jeffries examines the meaning that Klee's Angelus Novus held for Benjamin.
To celebrate the book's publication, The Storyteller is for sale at 40% off until Monday, August 8. Click here to activate the 40% discount.
In 1921, Walter Benjamin bought Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, an oil transfer drawing with watercolour, for 1,000 marks in Munich. His friend Charlotte Wolf then recalled how this “gauche and inhibited man” had “behaved as if something marvellous had been given to him."