B U R E A U O F P U B L I C S E C R E T S
Since 1968 dozens of books and innumerable pamphlets, journals, leaflets, etc., by groups or individuals not belonging to the Situationist International have appeared that can be considered more or less situationist in the broad sense of the term, in that, well or poorly, they have adopted the SIs perspectives and methods. This bibliography, however, mentions only the main publications of the SI itself, the pre- and post-SI works of some of its members, and some of the books about the SI.
Guy Debords Films
French SI Books
SI Publications in Other Languages
Books About the SI
Publishers and Distributors
Potlatch: 1954-1957 (Lebovici, 1985; Gallimard, 1996), a reissue of the complete newsletters of the Lettrist International, includes a preface by Guy Debord. Another edition is available from Éditions Allia.
Gérard Berréby (ed.), Documents relatifs à la fondation de lInternationale Situationniste: 1948-1957 (Allia, 1985), a huge and lavishly illustrated collection, includes not only all the issues of Potlatch but numerous other texts from Cobra, the Lettrist International, and the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, along with Asger Jorns Pour la forme and Jorn and Debords Fin de Copenhague. This Documents collection is now out of print, but Allia has since published separate editions of Pour la forme, Fin de Copenhague and all the Potlatch issues, as well as writings by or about LI members and/or early-SI members Michèle Bernstein, Ivan Chtcheglov, Piet de Groof (Walter Korun), Jean-Michel Mension, Ralph Rumney, Patrick Straram and Gil Joseph Wolman (see below under Books About the SI). Allia has also reissued Les Lèvres Nues (the Belgian surrealist journal that featured several LI articles).
Another early Jorn-Debord collaboration, Debords Mémoires, privately published in 1958, was reprinted by J.J. Pauvert (1993) and then by Allia (2004). Allia has also published Boris Donné’s study of the book, Pour Mémoires.
Mirella Bandinis Lesthétique de politique: de Cobra à lInternationale Situationniste (French translation from the original Italian, Sulliver, 1998) includes numerous documents and illustrations from the same period.
Translations of a number of early SI and pre-SI texts are included in Libero Andreotti and Xavier Costa (ed.), Theory of the Dérive and Other Situationist Writings on the City (Museu dArt Contemporani de Barcelona, 1996). A few others are included in the SI Anthology and in the McDonough collection listed below.
Hurlements en faveur de Sade (Films Lettristes, 1952). 75 minutes.
Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps (Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni, 1959). 20 minutes.
Critique de la séparation (Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni, 1961). 20 minutes.
La Société du Spectacle (Simar Films, 1973). 80 minutes.
Réfutation de tous les jugements, tant élogieux quhostiles, qui ont été jusquici portés sur le film La Société du Spectacle (Simar Films, 1975). 25 minutes.
In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (Simar Films, 1978). 100 minutes.
All are 35mm, B&W. Oeuvres cinématographiques complètes: 1952-1978 (Champ Libre, 1978; Gallimard, 1994) contains illustrated scripts of all six films. There is also a separate annotated edition of the voice-over text of In girum (Lebovici, 1990; Gallimard, 1999). The Gallimard annotated edition includes some additional documents as well as a number of reviews of In girum that were originally collected under the title Ordures et décombres déballés à la sortie du film In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (Champ Libre, 1982). The In girum script was translated by Lucy Forsyth (Pelagian, 1991). Translations of the other five films by various translators were collected (and to some extent revised) in Richard Parry (ed.), Society of the Spectacle and Other Films (Rebel, 1992). These versions have been superseded by Complete Cinematic Works (AK, 2003), which includes Ken Knabb’s new translations of all six scripts plus illustrations, documents, and extensive annotations. A detailed and generally reliable account of Debord’s films by Thomas Levin can be found in the McDonough collection listed below.
Debord also made one 60-minute video work, Guy Debord, son art et son temps, in collaboration with Brigitte Cornand (Canal Plus, 1994). The script is not included in Oeuvres cinématographiques complètes or the Complete Cinematic Works.
After having been unavailable for nearly twenty years, the original French versions of all of Debord’s films (including the Cornand video) are now all available in a three-DVD set. See Guy Debords Films for the latest news on Debord’s films plus excerpts from Knabb’s translation of the scripts.
Internationale Situationniste: 1958-1969 (Van Gennep, 1970; Champ Libre, 1975; Fayard, 1997). 700 pages, illustrated. Reissue of all twelve French journals in the original format. Selections were translated by Christopher Gray in Leaving the Twentieth Century: The Incomplete Work of the Situationist International (Free Fall, 1974; Rebel, 1998). Ken Knabbs Situationist International Anthology (Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981; revised and expanded version, 2006) is more accurate and comprehensive. During the last few years translations of many other SI articles have appeared in various publications or online. Most of these can be found at the Situationist International Online website or the Sinister Quarter blog.
Raoul Vaneigem, Traité de savoir-vivre à lusage des jeunes générations (Gallimard, 1967). Anonymous partial translation as Treatise on Living for the Use of the Young Generations (1970). Complete book translated as The Revolution of Everyday Life by John Fullerton and Paul Sieveking (Practical Paradise, 1972), and by Donald Nicholson-Smith (Rebel/Left Bank, 1983; 1994; Rebel, 2001; new translation: PM Press, 2012).
Guy Debord, La Société du Spectacle (Buchet-Chastel, 1967; Champ Libre, 1972; Gallimard, 1992). Translated as Society of the Spectacle by Fredy Perlman et al. (Black and Red, 1970; revised 1977; reprinted by AK Press, 2005); and as The Society of the Spectacle by Donald Nicholson-Smith (Zone, 1994), and by Ken Knabb (online, 2002; Rebel Press, 2004; revised and annotated edition, Bureau of Public Secrets, 2014). There were also two or three ephemeral manuscript versions that circulated in England during the 1970s.
René Viénet, Enragés et situationnistes dans le mouvement des occupations (Gallimard, 1968). Includes numerous documents and illustrations. Partially translated as Enragés and Situationists in the Occupation Movement, May 68 (Autonomedia/Rebel, 1992). Although published in Viénets name, this book was actually collectively written by Debord, Vaneigem, Viénet, Khayati and Riesel.
Guy Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti, La véritable scission dans lInternationale (Champ Libre, 1972; Fayard, 1998). Mostly written by Debord. Analysis of post-1968 developments in the society and within the SI and the situ milieu. Translated by Michel Prigent and Lucy Forsyth as The Veritable Split in the International (Piranha, 1974; revised: Chronos, 1990); translated by John McHale as The Real Split in the International (Pluto, 2003).
Débat dorientation de lex-Internationale Situationniste (Centre de Recherche sur la Question Sociale, 1974; Éditions du Cercle Carré, 2000). Internal SI documents, 1969-1971. Translations of a few excerpts are included in the SI Anthology.
Textes et documents situationnistes, 1957-1960 (Allia, 2003). All of the SI’s publications from its first four years.
Most of the more original and important SI texts appeared in French. (The SI Anthology is drawn entirely from French texts except for the two Italian texts on pp. 338-339 and 357-361 [new ed. 431-432 and 464-468].) SI publications in other languages often represented the more artistic and opportunistic tendencies (notably in Italy, Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands) that were repudiated early in the SIs history. In the later period, what would have become the British section never got off the ground, and the American and Italian sections scarcely lasted much longer, coming as they did right in the middle of the post-1968 crises that were soon to lead to the SIs dissolution.
The American sections main publications were Robert Chasses pamphlet The Power of Negative Thinking (New York, 1968), a critique of the New Left, originally published shortly before Chasse joined the SI; and one issue of a journal, Situationist International #1 (New York, 1969) that featured critiques of Marcuse, McLuhan, Bookchin, Baran and Sweezy, etc. After their December 1969 resignation/exclusion, Chasse and Bruce Elwell produced a critical history of the American section, A Field Study in the Dwindling Force of Cognition (1970), which the SI never answered. The American journal has been translated into French by Fabrice de San Mateo (Les Réveilleurs de la Nuit, 2012).
The Italian section published one issue of a journal, Internazionale Situazionista #1 (1969), and carried out a number of interventions in the crises and struggles in Italy. None of the Italian texts have been translated into English, but there was a complete French edition, Écrits complets de la Section Italienne de lInternationale Situationniste (1969-1972), translated by Joël Gayraud and Luc Mercier (Contre-Moule, 1988). Contre-Moule also published Archives Situationnistes, volume 1 (1997), consisting of French translations of all the German and British SI texts. Both of these Contre-Moule publications are now out of print.
The Scandinavian section published three issues of the Danish journal Situationistisk Revolution (1962, 1968, 1970). Some of its other activities are described in Internationale Situationniste #10, pp. 22-26.
Most of the major SI writings have been translated into English, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish. Some have also been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, Finnish, Hebrew, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Swedish, Turkish, and probably several other languages.
GUY DEBORD, Préface à la quatrième édition italienne de La Société du Spectacle (Champ Libre, 1979; included in the 1992 Gallimard edition of Commentaires). Translated by Lucy Forsyth and Michel Prigent as Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of The Society of the Spectacle (Chronos, 1979).
A los libertarios. Anonymously issued tract in defense of imprisoned Spanish anarchists. Included in Appels de la prison de Ségovie (Champ Libre, 1980).
Considérations sur lassassinat de Gérard Lebovici (Lebovici, 1985; Gallimard, 1993). Translated by Robert Greene as Considerations on the Assassination of Gérard Lebovici (Tam Tam, 2001).
(with Alice Becker-Ho), Le Jeu de la Guerre: Relevé des positions successives de toutes les forces au cours dune partie (Lebovici, 1987). Account of a board game (invented by Debord) with strategical commentaries. Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith as A Game of War and published in a box with the game board and pieces (Atlas Press, 2007).
Commentaires sur la société du spectacle (Lebovici, 1988; Gallimard, 1992). Translated by Malcolm Imrie as Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (Verso, 1990).
Panégyrique, tome premier (Lebovici, 1989; Gallimard, 1993). Autobiographical reflections. Translated by James Brook as Panegyric, Volume I (Verso, 1991). A revised edition of that translation has been published along with Volume 2 (trans. John McHale) as Panegyric, Volumes 1 & 2 (Verso, 2005).
Cette mauvaise réputation... (Gallimard, 1993). Responses to various rumors and misconceptions about Debord.
Des contrats (Le Temps Qu’il Fait, 1995). Debord’s film contracts.
Panégyrique, tome second (Fayard, 1997). Consists mostly of photographs illustrating Volume 1. An English translation by John McHale, combined with a revised version of James Brook’s translation of Volume 1, has been published as Panegyric, Volumes 1 & 2 (Verso, 2005).
Oeuvres (Gallimard, 2006). This huge omnibus volume (1904 pages!) in the Gallimard “Quarto” series contains virtually everything Debord ever wrote all of his books and all of his published articles plus dozens of previously unpublished texts (from theses on the Congolese revolutionary movement to manuscript notes on poker strategy) plus selections from his correspondence. With lots of graphics and useful annotations. Well worth the price even if you already have all the books.
La Librairie de Guy Debord: Stratégie (L’Échappé, 2018). This is the first volume of a five-volume series that will reproduce all of Debord’s personal notes on his readings (mostly written on thousands of index cards and now part of the Debord Archive at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris). This first volume (525 pages) includes Debord’s notes on Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Napoleon, Clausewitz, and dozens of other military theorists and historians. The other four volumes will be Poésie, etc., Marxisme” (including Hegel), Histoire, and Philosophie. These hefty and meticulously edited volumes will provide an in-depth look at Debord’s reading and how he used it as one of the bases of his writings and détournements. A related book which I have not yet seen, Laurence Le Bras’s Lire Debord (L’Échappé, 2016), is the series editor’s account of his preliminary work on this project.
Correspondance, volume 1: 1957-1960 (Fayard, 1999). Translated by Stuart Kendall and John McHale as Correspondence: The Foundation of the Situationist International (June 1957-August 1960) (Semiotext(e), 2009).
Correspondance, volume 2: 1960-1964 (Fayard, 2001).
Correspondance, volume 3: 1965-1968 (Fayard, 2003).
Correspondance, volume 4: 1969-1972 (Fayard, 2004).
Correspondance, volume 5: 1973-1978 (Fayard, 2005).
Correspondance, volume 6: 1979-1987 (Fayard, 2007).
Correspondance, volume 7: 1988-1994 (Fayard, 2008).
Correspondance, volume 0: 1951-1957 (Fayard, 2010). In addition to the earlier letters, this volume also includes various letters that were discovered too late to be included in the previous volumes and an index of names for the whole eight-volume series.
Le Marquis de Sade a des yeux de fille (Fayard, 2004). Facsimile edition of certain letters from Debord’s youth (1949-1954) which are not included in the above-mentioned eight-volume series.
Jean-François Martoss Correspondance avec Guy Debord (Le Fin Mot de l’Histoire, 1998) includes letters between Debord and some of his associates from 1981-1991. This book is no longer available, having been legally condemned for infringing on the copyright of Librairie Arthème Fayard, which had arranged with Debords widow Alice (Becker-Ho) Debord to publish the multi-volume edition cited above. See Martos’s Sur linterdiction de ma Correspondance avec Guy Debord (Le Fin Mot de l’Histoire, 1999). A few Debord letters are also included in the two volumes of published Champ Libre Correspondance (1978 & 1981).
Debord also translated the following texts into French: Protestation devant les libertaires du présent et du futur sur les capitulations de 1937 (text by the most radical anarchist current during the Spanish civil war: Champ Libre, 1979); Stances sur la mort de son père (classic Spanish poem by Jorge Manrique: Champ Libre, 1980; Le Temps Qu’il Fait, 1995); and Sanguinetti’s Véridique rapport (see below).
GIANFRANCO SANGUINETTI (pseudonym Censor), Rapporto veridico sulle ultime opportunità di salvare il capitalismo in Italia (Milan, 1975). The anonymous first edition of this book, seemingly written by an enlightened conservative arguing that an alliance with the Communist Party was in the best interest of the Italian ruling class, was mailed to some 500 politicians and journalists and stirred up a lot of confused debate and speculation. A few months later Sanguinetti created a second scandal by revealing that he was the author. Translated into French by Guy Debord as Véridique rapport sur les dernières chances de sauver le capitalisme en Italie (Champ Libre, 1976). Translated into English by Len Bracken as The Real Report on the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy (Flatland, 1997).
Del terrorismo e dello stato (Milan, 1979). Translated by Lucy Forsyth and Michel Prigent as On Terrorism and the State (Chronos, 1982).
RAOUL VANEIGEM, Terrorisme ou révolution (introduction to Ernest Coeurduroys Pour la révolution (Champ Libre, 1972). Translated as Terrorism or Revolution (Black Rose, 1975); reprinted in Collection of Desires (Paper Street, 2003).
——(pseudonym Ratgeb), De la grève sauvage à lautogestion généralisée (Éditions 10/18, 1974). First two chapters translated by Paul Sharkey as Contributions to the Revolutionary Struggle (Bratach Dubh, 1981; Elephant, 1990). Third chapter translated by Ken Knabb as Total Self-Management (BPS website, 2001). The whole book (combining those two translations) is included in Collection of Desires (Paper Street, 2003) under the title From Wildcat Strike to Total Self-Management.
(pseudonym J.F. Dupuis), Histoire désinvolte du surréalisme (Paul Vermont, 1977). Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith as A Cavalier History of Surrealism (AK, 1999).
Le livre des plaisirs (Encre, 1979). Translated by John Fullerton as The Book of Pleasures (Pending Press, 1983); reprinted in Collection of Desires (Paper Street, 2003).
Le mouvement du Libre-Esprit (Ramsay, 1986; Lor des fous, 2005). Translated by Randall Cherry and Ian Patterson as The Movement of the Free Spirit (Zone, 1994).
Adresse aux vivants sur la mort qui les gouverne et lopportunité de sen défaire (Seghers, 1990).
La résistance au christianisme: Les hérésies des origines au XVIIIe siècle (Fayard, 1993).
Avertissement aux écoliers et lycéens (Mille et Une Nuits, 1995). Translated by JML/Not Bored as A Warning to Students of All Ages (2000) and included in Collection of Desires (Paper Street, 2003).
Nous qui désirons sans fin (Le Cherche Midi, 1996).
Pour une Internationale du genre humain (Le Cherche Midi, 1999).
Déclaration des droits de lêtre humain (Le Cherche Midi, 2001). Translated by Liz Heron as A Declaration of the Rights of Human Beings: On the Sovereignty of Life as Surpassing the Rights of Man (Pluto, 2003; 2nd edition, translation revised by Donald Nicholson-Smith, PM Press, 2019).
Le Chevalier, la Dame, le Diable et la mort (Le Cherche Midi, 2003). Somewhat more autobiographical, or at least more “personal,” than his other books.
Rien nest sacré, tout peut se dire (La Découverte, 2003).
Modestes propositions aux grévistes (Verticales, 2004).
Voyage à Oarystis (Estuaire, 2005).
Journal imaginaire (Le Cherche Midi, 2006).
Entre le deuil du monde et la joie de vivre: Les situationnistes et les mutations des comportements (Verticales-Gallimard, 2008).
(with Gérard Berréby) Rien nest fini, tout commence (Allia, 2014). I havent yet seen this, but it looks very interesting a long series of interviews in which Vaneigem looks back on Debord and the SI.
(This is just a partial list of Vaneigems post-SI works he has been very prolific.)
RENÉ VIÉNET, La dialectique peut-elle casser des briques? (1973). 90-minute kungfu film with altered soundtrack. Keith Sanborn produced a videocopy with English subtitles entitled Can Dialectics Break Bricks? Viénet produced three or four other similar films during the 1970s, but they have had limited circulation.
* * *
In addition to the published translations mentioned above, there are numerous online translations. Many of them can be found at the “Situationist International Online” website: www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline. Other extensive collections can be found at www.notbored.org/index1.html and www.nothingness.org/SI/. The online translations tend to be less reliable than the published ones, but many of the latter are also inadequate. The three main faults are excessive literalness, excessive liberty, and pure and simple carelessness. For examples of each, see How Not To Translate Situationist Texts.
Jean-Jacques Raspaud and Jean-Pierre Voyers LInternationale Situationniste: protagonistes, chronologie, bibliographie (avec un index des noms insultés) (Champ Libre, 1971) is a handy reference guide and index to the French journal collection.
Pascal Dumontiers Les situationnistes et Mai 68 (Lebovici, 1990) is a competent and well-documented account of this period of the SI’s practice.
Jean-François Martoss Histoire de lInternationale Situationniste (Lebovici, 1989) is an orthodox view, recounting the SIs development and perspectives largely in the situationists own words.
Gianfranco Marellis Lamère victoire du situationnisme (French translation from the original Italian, Sulliver, 1998) covers the same territory in more detail, sometimes perceptively, sometimes dubiously. The style is leaden and unnecessarily convoluted, and the authors critiques of the SI, though more well-considered than most, sometimes reflect a failure to grasp the dynamic, dialectical quality of the situationists ventures.
Sergio Ghirardi’s Nous n’avons pas peur des ruines: les situationnistes et notre temps (Insomniaque, 2004) covers the same territory from a more “Vaneigemist” perspective, both in the sense that the author stresses Vaneigem’s characteristic themes and in the sense that he often echoes Vaneigem’s rhetorical style.
Christophe Bourseillers gossipy biography, Vie et mort de Guy Debord (Plon, 1999), contains a large amount of hitherto unavailable material on Debords personal life, based on interviews with several people who knew him intimately and many others who crossed his path at one point or another. The various anecdotes, rumors and interpretations are often hostile and contradictory, and needless to say should be taken with a grain of salt.
Jean-Marie Apostolidèss Les tombeaux de Guy Debord (Exils, September 1999; enlarged ed. Flammarion, 2006) is an interesting but sometimes dubiously speculative psychological interpretation of Debord, based on inferences from his more autobiographical works and from Michèle Bernsteins two novels, Tous les chevaux du roi and La nuit. The book has virtually no bearing on Debords revolutionary ventures, which, the few times they are mentioned, are simplistically reinterpreted to fit in with the authors psychological thesis. Caught up in his own admittedly difficult project of discovering the hidden essence of Debord the person, Apostolidès quite unjustifiably projects this obscurity onto Debords radical work: As for revolution, he always presents it to us in a hypothetical form, as a promise or as an ungraspable event upon which we can only meditate (p. 147). Can he really be talking about the person who more lucidly than anyone else during the last century challenged people to abandon passivity and idle speculation and take part in a revolutionary project that by its very nature must be concrete and participatory? At the end of his book Apostolidès opines that its time to go beyond the stage of the spectacular reception of Debords works (whether laudatory or depreciatory) to another stage, that of interpretation (p. 161). In practice this sort of interpretation is usually simply another way of spectating. There is another tack that supersedes all these tortuous academic problematics that of using Debords works for revolutionary purposes, as they were clearly and explicitly intended to be used. Those who do so will have no trouble understanding what matters about him, without worrying overly much about his personal foibles. For those who dont, revolution will indeed remain hypothetical and ungraspable.
Jean-Marie Apostolidès’s Debord le naufrageur (Flammarion, 2015). I have not yet seen this longer and more recent work, but reports have not been favorable. See in particular this lengthy critique by Gianfranco Sanguinetti (translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith): Money, Sex and Power: On a Sham Biography of Guy Debord.
Shigenobu Gonzalvezs Guy Debord ou la beauté du négatif (Mille et Une Nuits, 1998; expanded edition: Nautilus, 2002) includes the most extensive Debord bibliography.
Antoine Coppola’s Introduction au cinéma de Guy Debord et de lavant-garde situationniste (Sulliver, 2003) is a brief but generally reliable study of Debord’s films.
Guy-Claude Marie’s Guy Debord: de son cinéma en son art et en son temps (Vrin, 2009) is longer and more detailed than Coppola’s book, but it focuses almost exclusively on La Société du Spectacle, and to a lesser extent on Hurlements en faveur de Sade, with only passing mentions of the other four films.
Boris Donné’s Pour Mémoires (Allia, 2004) is an intriguing in-depth exploration of Debord’s 1958 Mémoires.
Jean-Marie Apostolidès and Boris Donné’s Ivan Chtcheglov, profil perdu (Allia, 2006) is a preliminary biographical study of this important early figure, who along with Debord was one of the pioneers of psychogeographical exploration. Apostolidès and Donné have also edited Chtcheglov’s Écrits retrouvés (Allia, 2006) and the Straram volume mentioned below.
Patrick Straram’s Les bouteilles se couchent (Allia, 2006) is a fictional portrayal of the bohemian scene described by Jean-Michel Mension (see below), centering around the now-legendary Chez Moineau café.
Patrick Straram’s Lettre à Guy Debord (Sens & Tonka, 2006) was written in 1960, after Straram had moved to Quebec.
Piet de Groof ’s Le général situationniste (Allia, 2007) recounts much of the post-Cobra, pre-SI artistic scene in Belgium and the Netherlands. (De Groof was briefly in the SI, under the name Walter Korun.)
André Bertrand and André Schneider’s Le Scandale de Strasbourg (Insomniaque, 2018) is an extensively documented and illustrated account of the 1966-1967 Strasbourg scandal by three of its main perpetrators. (The third, Daniel Joubert, died in 1996, but the book includes so many documents by and about him that he is effectively a coauthor.) The book fills in the hitherto unknown history leading up to the scandal and disputes some points of the SI’s account (Our Goals and Methods in the Strasbourg Scandal).
Christophe Bourseiller (ed.), Archives et documents situationnistes (Denoël, 2001-2005) is a book-length journal of which five volumes appeared. The journals include useful bibliographical information along with other material of varying and often merely tangential interest or reliability (e.g. interviews with people who may or may not have had much to do with the SI or much understanding of what it was really about).
Stéphane Zagdanski’s Debord ou La diffraction du temps (Gallimard, 2008), though sometimes erratically opinionated (among other things, the author is very pro-Heidegger and very anti-sixties), insightfully zeroes in on numerous key contributions and innovations of Debord.
Patrick Marcolini’s Le mouvement situationniste: une histoire intellectuelle (L’Échappée, 2012) includes the most extensive survey so far of the SI’s influence on all sorts of later currents and movements in Europe and America (political, academic, artistic, literary, architectural, etc.).
A.T.’s Debord, etc. (Éditions 13 bis, 2013) is a freewheeling critique of Debord and some of the people around him. The author is an old friend of mine, and over the years I have found his wide-ranging writings to be almost invariably provocative and refreshing. (You can obtain most of them from the same publisher: see the address list below.) But in this book more than any of his others, I think that his insights are mixed with too many facile pseudocritiques.
Emmanuel Guy and Lawrence Le Bras (ed.), Guy Debord: un art de la guerre (BNF/Gallimard, 2013) is a profusely illustrated assemblage of articles based on Debord’s personal archives, which were recently acquired by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Although the articles can generally be characterized as academic, the authors have been more rigorous in their statements and more judicious in their judgments than most other academic studies. In addition, they draw on a larger body of documentation, much of it hitherto inaccessible, including Debord’s notes and drafts for his various projects, realized or not, and his notes on, and excerpts from, hundreds of the books he read.
Anselm Jappes Guy Debord (Via Valeriano, 1995), Jean-Michel Mension’s La Tribu (Allia, 1998), Ralph Rumney’s Le Consul (Allia, 1999), Vincent Kaufmann’s Guy Debord: La révolution au service de la poésie (Fayard, 2001), Michèle Bernsteins Tous les chevaux du roi (Buchet-Chastel, 1960; Allia, 2004) and La Nuit (Buchet-Chastel, 1961), and various works by Jean-Pierre Voyer are discussed in the English translations section below.
Several other books on the SI, and especially on Debord, have been published in France over the last few years, but many of them, including the following, are of limited interest at best Retour au futur? des situationnistes (Via Valeriano, 1990); Cécile Guilberts Pour Guy Debord (Gallimard, 1996); Frédéric Schiffters Guy Debord lAtrabilaire (Distance, 1997; reprinted as Contre Debord, P.U.F., 2004); Lignes #31 (special issue on Debord, April 1997); Laurent Chollet’s L’insurrection situationniste (Dagorno, 2000). There are also a few new ones that I have not yet seen.
David Jacobs and Chris Winkss At Dusk: The Situationist Movement in Historical Perspective (Perspectives, 1975; reissued 1999) is a Frankfort School-influenced critique of the situationists by two ex-members of the situ group Point-Blank. I find it both turgid and unconvincing, but maybe Im prejudiced since it also includes some criticisms of Knabbism.
Elisabeth Sussman (ed.), On the Passage of a Few People Through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International, 1957-1972 (MIT/Institute of Contemporary Art, 1989), an illustrated catalog of the 1989-90 exhibition on the SI in Paris, London and Boston, includes some previously untranslated SI texts along with an assortment of academic articles devoted primarily to the early artistic-cultural aspects of the SIs venture. Now out of print.
Greil Marcuss Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Harvard, 1989) concentrates even more exclusively on the presituationist ventures of the 1950s. The author relates those ventures rather impressionistically and ahistorically to other extremist cultural movements such as Dada and early punk, while showing little interest in the SI’s revolutionary efforts and perspectives.
Iwona Blazwick (ed.), An Endless Adventure, an Endless Passion, an Endless Banquet: A Situationist Scrapbook (Verso/ICA, 1989) includes an assortment of texts illustrating the (for the most part rather confused) influence of the SI in England from the 1960s through the 1980s. Now out of print.
Ken Knabbs Public Secrets (Bureau of Public Secrets, 1997) includes a considerable amount of material about the SI and SI-influenced American groups.
Simon Fords The Realization and Suppression of the Situationist International: An Annotated Bibliography 1972-1992 (AK, 1995) lists over 600 post-SI texts, mostly in English, about or influenced by the SI. Ford has also authored a lavishly illustrated history, The Situationist International: A User’s Guide (Black Dog, 2005).
Stewart Home (ed.), What Is Situationism? A Reader (AK, 1996) presents an assortment of views, mostly hostile and uncomprehending, as is Homes own previous book, The Assault on Culture (Aporia/Unpopular, 1988; AK, 2002).
The first half of Sadie Plants The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (Routledge, 1992) is a fairly competent summary of the main situationist theses. The second half will be of interest primarily to those who are so ill-informed as to imagine that the situationists had some resemblance to the postmodernists and other fashionably pretentious ideologists of confusion and resignation.
Simon Sadlers The Situationist City (MIT Press, 1998) is a detailed but limited account of the situationists early psychogeographical experiments and urbanistic ideas. Like most other academic studies, it scarcely mentions their revolutionary perspectives.
Tom McDonough (ed.), Guy Debord and the Situationist International (MIT Press, 2002) presents a misleadingly one-sided selection of 150 pages of SI articles (mostly early ones on art and urbanism, with virtually nothing from the last two-thirds of the group’s existence) insulated by a 300-page buffer zone of academic commentary. Were it not for the inclusion of a salutary polemic by T.J. Clark and Donald Nicholson-Smith, the reader of this book would get the impression that the situationists were primarily important as avant-garde artists, and that their revolutionary ventures were merely incidental and long-outdated eccentricities.
In contrast to such myopic studies, Len Brackens Guy DebordRevolutionary (Feral House, 1997) has the merit of attempting to cover the whole picture from a radical standpoint. It has the fault of being rather sloppy: the translations are uneven, speculations are not always clearly distinguished from facts, and the numerous typos do not inspire confidence in the authors care for accuracy.
A more rigorous but less biographical study, Anselm Jappes Guy Debord, has been translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith (University of California Press, 1999; PM Press, 2018). Jappes work — so far the only book on Debord in either French or English that can be unreservedly recommended — is particularly useful for its extensive treatment of the Marxian connection that is usually ignored in culture-oriented accounts of the situationists.
Andrew Husseys The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord (Jonathan Cape, 2001) is riddled with factual errors. The author’s crude interpretations of Debord’s supposed personal motives are derived primarily from hostile sources and reflect a very superficial understanding of Debord’s projects and perspectives.
Andy Merrifield’s Guy Debord (Reaktion Books, 2005) is less obnoxiously glib than Hussey, but contains little that cannot be found in other works about Debord.
Vincent Kaufmanns Guy Debord: Revolution in the Service of Poetry (University of Minnesota Press, 2006; translated by Robert Bononno) is a comprehensive and often insightful examination of the cultural or poetic aspects of Debords life and work. The political aspects are treated in a very perfunctory and much less insightful manner.
McKenzie Wark’s The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International (Verso, 2011) is a hodgepodge, focusing on the “non-Debordist” participants and currents within and around the SI. This is not an unreasonable project, and the reader may find a few pertinent observations on Jorn or Constant or the Lettrists. But the author’s notion that the Nashists and their various cohorts (see next entry) can be regarded as more or less equally significant rivals of Debord and the SI is absurd.
Mikkel Rasmussen and Jakob Jakobsen (eds.), Expect Anything Fear Nothing: The Situationist Movement in Scandinavia and Elsewhere (Nebula/Autonomedia, 2011) provides plentiful evidence of the silliness and cluelessness of the Spurists, the Nashists, the “Second Situationist International,” The Situationist Times, etc., whose participants and sympathisers seem to have understood little or nothing of what Debord and the SI were actually about.
Jean-Pierre Voyer’s Its Crazy How Many Things Dont Exist: Selected Writings (Cruel Hospice, 2015) includes several short pieces criticizing Debord and the situationists. Personally I have found most of Voyers writings (after the initial promise of his pamphlet Reich: How to Use and perhaps one or two of his earliest books) to be delirious. But a few people still swear by him, including my ex-friend Isaac Cronin, who blames me and Donald Nicholson-Smith for a “purposeful and conspiratorial silence” through which we almost single-handedly suppressed Voyers ground-breaking message. Im not quite sure how Donald and I managed to prevent Voyer’s partisans from publishing and publicizing his works in English during a period of more than 30 years — I guess I just didn’t realize how powerful and intimidating we were! — but with this book they have finally broken through the conspiracy of silence, so now you can find out for yourself what, if anything, youve been missing.
Jean-Michel Mensions The Tribe (City Lights, 2001; translated by Donald-Nicholson-Smith), a series of profusely illustrated reminiscences of Debord and his friends, gives a good taste of the pre-situationist bohemian scene in Paris in the early 1950s.
Ralph Rumneys The Consul (City Lights, 2002; translated by Malcolm Imrie) also includes some material on the early situationists, though not so much as the Mension book (most of it is about Rumneys personal life as artist and bohemian).
Michèle Bernstein’s All the King’s Horses (Semiotext(e), 2008; translated by John Kelsey) and The Night (Book Works; translated by Clodagh Kinsella) are companion novels loosely based on Bernstein and Debord’s life in the late 1950s.
Stefan Zweifel et al. (ed.), In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni—The Situationist International (1957-1972) (JRP/Ringier/Museum Tinguely, 2007), a profusely illustrated catalog of a 2006-2007 exhibition in Basel (Switzerland) and Utrecht (Netherlands), includes a large amount of material about the SI in English. The articles, by a diverse range of academic and cultural commentators, are mostly hostile and unreliable and there are numerous typos, mistranslations and other errors (e.g. several texts are erroneously listed as “translated by Ken Knabb”), but aficionados may nevertheless wish to procure this volume because of its sheer quantity of material, including hundreds of illustrations.
I have not attempted to mention, let alone review, the thousands of printed articles or online texts about the SI. Suffice it to say that the vast majority are riddled with lies or misconceptions, and that even the few that are relatively accurate rarely offer much that cannot be found better expressed in the SIs own writings. A sampling of diverse views on the situationists can be found in The Blind Men and the Elephant. Refutations of such views can be found in the Site Index under “Situationist International, common misconceptions about”. The situationists may not have always been right, but their critics are almost always wrong. Read the original texts, dont rely on spectators commentaries. Despite the situationists reputation for difficulty, they are not really all that hard to understand once you begin to experiment for yourself.
Éditions Champ Libre was renamed Éditions Gérard Lebovici in memory of its founder-owner, who was assassinated in 1984. (The assassins were never identified.) Besides the books mentioned here it has published many other situationist-influenced authors along with a wide range of earlier works of related interest. After yet another change of name and address, it is now Éditions Ivrea, 1 Place Paul Painlevé, 75005 Paris — http://editions-ivrea.fr
Other French publishers:
Éditions Allia, 16 rue Charlemagne, 75004 Paris
Éditions Denoël, 9 rue du Cherche-Midi, 75006 Paris
Éditions Gallimard, 5 rue Sébastien-Bottin, 75007 Paris
Éditions LÉchappée, 23 rue Voltaire, 75011 Paris
Éditions Sulliver, B.P. 8, 06530 Cabris
Éditions 13 bis, 17 rue de Bagnolet, 75020 Paris
Le Cherche Midi Éditeur, 23 rue du Cherche midi, 75006 Paris
Le Fin Mot de lHistoire, B.P. 274, 75866 Paris cedex 18
Librairie Arthème Fayard, 75 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris
L’Insomniaque Éditeur, 43 rue de Stalingrad, 93100 Montreuil s/Bois
Most French books (new and used) can be ordered online at www.chapitre.com.
Most situationist texts in English are available from:
AK Distribution, 370 Ryan Ave. #100, Chio, CA 95973, USA
AK Distribution, 33 Tower Street, Edinburgh EH6 7BN, Scotland
This online bibliography, compiled by Ken Knabb, is a continually updated version of the bibliography that appears in Public Secrets (1997) and in the Situationist International Anthology (Revised and Expanded Edition, 2006).
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