Review: The Beautiful Language of My Century: Reinventing the Language of Contestion in Postwar France, 1945-1968

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The Beautiful Language of My Century: Reinventing the Language of Contestion in Postwar France, 1945-1968
Tom McDonough

MIT Press
Street: 03.30

In The Beautiful Language of My Century, Tom McDonough has his work cut out for him as the topic of the Situationist International and the May ’68 riots are an over-bloated subject. But what McDonough does here, with grace, a keen intellect and a critical eye, is to unwind a specific set of terms in a narrow historical moment to illuminate “the beautiful language of OUR century”––mainly such forward-thinking ideas and tactics such as detournement, the festival (fete) and how these terms apply to us today. McDonough goes over cultural theft, artistic (and hence political) sensibility and the real roots of revolution today. If you really want to get your hands dirty, put away your Howard Zinn and let McDonough show you what a real revolution is and in the process illuminate your historical understanding. –Erik Lopez