Proletarian Nights: The Workers' Dream in Nineteenth-Century France

A classic text by Rancière on the intellectual thought of French workers in the 19th century.

Proletarian Nights, previously published in English as Nights of Labor and one of Rancière’s most important works, dramatically reinterprets the Revolution of 1830, contending that workers were not rebelling against specific hardships and conditions but against the unyielding predetermination of their lives. Through a study of worker-run newspapers, letters, journals, and worker-poetry, Rancière reveals the contradictory and conflicting stories that challenge the coherence of these statements celebrating labor.

This updated edition includes a new preface by the author, revisiting the work twenty years since its first publication in France.


  • “With its innovative approach, Rancière's difficult and provocative interpretation is essential reading.”
  • “Rancière’s brilliant book … locates the nineteenth-century origins of European socialism not in the noble desire of artisans to control their own labor but in the utopian visions of working-class poets who wanted to be free of labor altogether ... This is a powerful, piercing, and radical argument ... Rancière has merged his philosophical and historical interests into a profound commentary on the possibilities of human freedom and of the violence done to those possibilities in freedom’s name.”
  • “Drury's translation puts it into English as directly and comprehensibly as possible. It's a difficult job to do well, and the translator's work goes a long way toward making the book more readable.”


Other books by Jacques Rancière