Guy Debord and the Situationist International

From October Books

Guy Debord and the Situationist International

Texts and Documents

Edited by Tom McDonough

Critical texts, translations, documents, and photographs on the work of the Situationist International.





Critical texts, translations, documents, and photographs on the work of the Situationist International.

This volume is a revised and expanded version of a special issue of the journal October (Winter 1997) that was devoted to the work of the Situationist International (SI). The first section of the issue contained previously unpublished critical texts, and the second section contained translations of primary texts that had previously been unavailable in English. The emphasis was on the SI's profound engagement with the art and cultural politics of their time (1957-1972), with a strong argument for their primarily political and activist stance by two former members of the group, T. J. Clark and Donald Nicholson-Smith.

Guy Debord and the Situationist International supplements both sections. It reprints important, hard to find essays by Giorgio Agamben, Libero Andreotti, Jonathan Crary, Thomas Y. Levin, Greil Marcus, and Tom McDonough and doubles the number of translations of primary texts, which now encompass a broader and more representative range of the SI's writings on culture and language. In a field still dominated by hagiography, the critical texts were selected for their willingness to confront critically the history and legacy of the SI. They examine the group within the broader framework of the historical and neo-avant-gardes and, beyond that, the postwar world in general. The translations trace the SI's reflections on the legacy of the avant-garde in art and architecture, particularly on the linguistic and spatial significance of montage aesthetics. Many of the translated works are by Guy Debord (1932-1994), the impresario of the SI, especially known for his book The Society of the Spectacle.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262134040 514 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 113 illus.


$34.95 T ISBN: 9780262633000 514 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 113 illus.


Tom McDonough

Tom McDonough is Associate Professor of Art History at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He is the author of “The Beautiful Language of My Century”: Reinventing the Language of Contestation in Postwar France, 1945–1968 (MIT Press).


  • ... [A] balanced, critical view of the history of the SI.

    Geert Bekaert


  • This nicely produced work is an encyclopedic rendering of the SI philosophy and legacy...

    Ali Houissa

    Library Journal


  • The essays in this collection provide a dazzling variety of perspectives while remaining faithful to the idea that the Situationist project contains a revolutionary message for present and future generations. More than this, with wit, lucidity, and elegance, the essays in this book dissect the century we have just left, anticipating, as the Situationists would have it, the revolution as a world of endless possibilities.

    Andrew Hussey

    Lecturer in French, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, author of The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord

  • The time has come to forget about the glossy clichés surrounding the group and put their theories back where they belong, in the Batallian gutter of the everyday political arena. After all, one should not forget that Guy Debord's project was a revolutionary one, a devastating critique of the effects of local and global capitalism. This volume is a timely jolt when one realizes that irreverence and political critique today are often considered an attack against the state, or even a terrorist act. In our new polarized world, debate and critique have become suspicious even when one attempts to 'understand' his/her own 'situation,' as independent thinking has become a threat to a generally welcomed blindness, stupidity, and nationalism. So this is a dangerous book because in its very structure it makes us think. Buy it, or better yet, steal it, as the 'Situ' used to say. It will clean up your brain from the mass of soot left there by your favorite newspapers.

    Serge Guilbaut

    Professor, Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory, University of British Columbia, Canada