Michèle Bernstein: The Night

Michèle Bernstein: The Night
Library Shelf Location ABC-BERN
Publication Date 2013

NOTE: THIS ARTIST'S BOOK IS HELD IN BALTIC ARCHIVE NOT THE LIBRARY. Please email for an appointment or see staff. 

Translated from La Nuit, 1961, by Clodagh Kinsella, with a new preface for the English edition by Michèle Bernstein

La Nuit is about the Paris of 1957 – the one I see when I close my eyes (the nostalgic note). There’s no need to cry, it’s still there. We can piece together the image from the scattered pieces of the jigsaw. And if La Nuit is a love story, it’s not for him, or for her, or for someone else, or for me. It’s a love story, a story of lost love, for the streets.’ – from the new preface, Michèle Bernstein

Here, translated into English for the first time, is the second novel of Michèle Bernstein, a founding member of the Situationist International. Following All the King’s Horses, it was also written for cash, and again cannibalises the plot of Les Liaisons dangeureuses, featuring the same characters as her debut: Gilles, Geneviève, Carole and Bertrand. The story remains the same, but the book is different, this time parodying the style of the nouveau roman, with its elongated sentences and non-linear sense of time and place. As its protagonists drift through the streets of Paris, through the entanglements of a ménage à trois, and the ennui of a summer holiday on the Côte d’Azur, The Night is littered with détournements – unattributed quotations and knowing winks at situationist practices – and clues that give insight into the lives and spirit of both the author and her husband Guy Debord.

With a new preface for the English edition by the author, The Night has been translated by Clodagh Kinsella, and edited by Everyone Agrees, and designed by Erik Hartin, as part of a project with After The Night, a détournement of La Nuit, set in London, 2013. Everyone Agrees are a collective who operate and publish out of London and New York.

Also available as a 2 volumes, with After The Night
​ISBN 978 1 906012 53 3 – Price £15.00 - this will be available again when the book is reprinted

The Game
An interview with Michèle Bernstein, novelist and founding member of the Situationist International

by Gavin Everall
frieze magazine, September 2013

‘We were all Marxists, or course – still are. Totally under the charm of the old man – the genius. Maybe he will become more and more important now.’

The Night and After The Night
by Stewart Home
Art Review September, 2013

‘...a paradigmatic example of Lettrist détournement – the hijacking of preexisting cultural material and its redeployment to revolutionary ends. She very successfully incorporates elements from her own life, various films and other people’s books into The Night.

Purple Diary
29 July, 2013

‘Michèle Bernstein, the foremost female protagonist of the Situationist movement – and Guy Debord’s wife – cannibalised the plot of Les Liaisons dangereuses, to the extent of even borrowing the 18th century’s novels characters of Gilles, Genèvieve, Carole and Bertrand, Michèle Bernstein, for her 1957 novel La Nuit. A playfully and somewhat mockingly constructed rumination on a novel’s form, La Nuit is littered with unattributed quotations and knowing winks at situationist high jinks, with its four protagonists drifting through the streets of Paris, weaving through the entanglements of ménage à trois and the ennui of a summer holiday on the Côte d’Azur in the spirit of both the author and her husband. Translated to English for the first time by Clodagh Kinsella, and edited by the literary collective Everyone Agrees – who, at the request of Bernstein, re-interpreted La Nuit for the 21st Century. Set in east London, After the Night traces the journeys and experiences of Bèrnstein’s original characters, directly mapping them to the streets of London and enacted through email conversations, snapshots of nightlife, and the odd mention of Olivier Zahm.’

Twin Cities, TLS
14 June 2013

‘Avant-gardism is in short supply these days, not least in the literary domain, where nothing is shocking any more and soporific storytelling has vanquished the taste for the back-to-front and inside-out. It was with pleasure, therefore, that we encountered TheNight / After the Night, two slim volumes published as one by Book Works of east London. The Night is a translation of La Nuit by the Situationist author Michèle Bernstein, wife of Guy Debord, the movement’s principal. First published in 1961, it is a Parisian perambulation, set in and around the Latin Quarter, with tints and highlights superimposed from the nouveau roman, Les Liaisons dangereuses, and the lives of the author and her husband. Here is the opening sentence:

At the corner of the Boulevard Saint-Germain and the Boulevard Saint-Michel lies a metro entrance, long since defunct, and bordered by the railings of a private garden.

The twin volume, After the Night, comes with photographs and transcriptions of email exchanges. It is set in London, in the present. The opening lines run as follows:

At the corner of Shepperton Road and Southgate Road lies the Rosemary Branch Theatre. Its scrawled chalkboard, black and white façade and pastel illustration of a hot air balloon look familiar.

A Possible Appointment With Michèle Bernstein by Stewart Home, Randnotizen, 28 May 2013

‘A possible appointment was a psychogeographical technique used by the Lettrist International and later the Situationist International. One variant of it was to go to a specific place at a specific time to meet someone who may or may not be there. When I got an invitation to the launch of the first English translation of Michèle Bernstein’s 1961 novel The Night (Book Works 2013), I decided this was a possible appointment with its author (who was deeply involved in Lettrist and Situationist activity in the 1950s and 1960s). While I didn’t know for sure Bernstein would be at the launch...’

Common Objectives is a series of quick-fire, rapid-response projects from artist/writer collectives or individual art practices engaged with emerging political struggles, rejecting the idea of culture as a playground for the elite, engaging in the potent mix of free discourse, solidarity and the production of new desires and prepared to break open old worlds, either in the virtual space of communication and networks, or in the concrete world of action, discourse and distribution. Other projects in the series include: Move...ment, a new issue of the journal ...ment, edited by Federica Bueti; and Pre-enactments by Victoria Halford and Steve Beard.

ISBN 9781906012526
Quantity 1
Pages 160p; 140 x 190
Editor Federica Bueti
Format Softcover
Publisher Book Works, London
Related Artist Michèle Bernstein
Categories BALTIC Artists' Book Collection (by appointment), Artists' Books
Language English

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