Leaving the Twentieth Century

Leaving the Twentieth Century:Situationist Revolutions

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The acclaimed history of the groundbreaking Situationist movement

The Situationist International, which leaped to the fore during the Paris tumult of 1968, has extended its revolutionary influence right up to the present day. In Leaving the Twentieth Century, the movement is captured for the first time in its full range and diversity.

McKenzie Wark traces the group’s development from the bohemian Paris of the ’50s to the explosive days of May ’68. She introduces the group as an ensemble, revealing the work and activities of thinkers previously obscured by the reputation of founding member Guy Debord. Roaming through Europe and exploring the vital lives its members—including Constant, Asger Jorn, Michèle Bernstein, Alexander Trocchi, and Jacqueline de Jong—Wark uncovers a group riven with conflicting passions. She follows the narrative beyond 1968, to the Situationists International’s disintegration and beyond: the ideas of T. J. Clark, the Fourierist utopia of Raoul Vaneigem, René Vienet’s earthy situationist cinema, Gianfranco Sanguinetti’s pranking of the Italian ruling class, Alice Becker-Ho’s account of the anonymous language of the Romany, and Debord’s late films and his surprising work as a game designer.

Reviews

  • A playful, smart and occasionally epigrammatic study of the Situationists ... this brilliant account is not only an essential work for our own times; it also comes with a cover that, with the minimum of manual dexterity, folds out into a collaborative graphic essay

    John BurnsideTimes Literary Supplement
  • Wark is a fine aphorist ... Playful, angry, depressed, celebratory, this is a book for anyone not convinced that there is no alternative to the way we live now

    Christopher BrayObserver
  • [A] smart overview of the situationist movement

    Hari KunzruNew Statesman, Books of the Year