Michèle Bernstein wrote a Situationist trash novel. She did it, so she said, to give the S.I. financial support, and as a joke. If I had to make a choice, I would prefer this piece of writing over almost any other book, let alone theoretical writings of the S.I. Where the other Situationist writings are dry, pathos-laden and ridiculously unaware of their own overstatement, this novel has all the fresh ideas but adds an ill sense of humour, valorizing the trope of the bohèmian Parisian Libertine in as much as she satirizes it (apparently it was heavily influenced by Laclos' Liaisons Dangereuses, which had just been turned into a movie for the first time). In the best sense possible Michèle is Anti- de Beauvoir. Her characters are in no way rigid or fierce. No depressed clinging to the great idea, no clenched teeth. Although the plot is not unlike "She Came to Stay", which is a gruelling story about the failure of progressive ideas and repressed conventionality behind the veil of liberation, Bernstein's characters have no pretensions, and if they do they can be sure to be speared by her wits. For sure this book is also great for the way it has been translated. The Bernadette Corporation adopted this work of fiction as a structure around which they base their own activities as a highly reflective, super-contemporary artist collective in New York City. Their translation from French into English is almost naturally also a translation from the 1950's to the 2000's, barring the fact that we would have a lot of catching up to do if we wanted to be ahead of Michèle in 1958, anyway.
OCTOBER 7, 2009 6:17 PM