The first English translation of the French cult classic that lampoons France’s most popular intellectuals of the post-1968 period and their ideas, which became forces of counterrevolution.
Eric-John Russell’s translation of Jaime Semprún’s brutal takedown of France’s best-known intellectuals of the post-1968 period, A Gallery of Recuperation, is one of the first full English versions of any of Semprún’s books. Originally titled Précis de recuperation, the book is a scathing critique of ten major thinkers, including Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, and Cornelius Castoriadis. Semprún uses this catalog of careerism to reflect on the concept of recuperation—capitalism’s uncanny ability to coopt anticapitalist critiques and subvert subversion. His central question: What happens to revolutionary ideas, including Marxism itself, in the hands of professional intellectuals?
Semprún’s idiosyncratic and playful style of polemics takes existentialism, humanism, structuralism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, aesthetics, and psychoanalysis to task, casting new light on the figures who have become dominant staples of modern Anglophone academia, and proving the necessity of critiquing intellectuals’ roles within contemporary capitalism. A cult classic among the French radical left and scholars of the Situationist International and May 1968, A Gallery of Recuperation never made the impact it should have. Russell’s translation marks a major step in recognizing Semprún’s work beyond its French context.
About the Author
Jaime Semprún (1947–2010) was a French writer and publisher. In 1984, Semprún and ex-situationist Christian Sebastiani founded the journal Encyclopédie des Nuisances. Producing fifteen issues until 1992, the journal published articles on situationist themes, including many penned by an anonymous Guy Debord.
Eric-John Russell is Marie Curie Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Potsdam, Germany. He is the author of Spectacular Logic in Hegel and Debord: Why Everything Is as It Seems, Editor-in-Chief of Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, and founding editor of Cured Quail.