The Tribe

Jean-Michel Mension (Author) Ed Van Der Elsken (Photographer)
& 1 more


Between 1952 and 1954, Jean-Michel Mension haunted Saint-Germain-des-Prés as a member of the legendary Letterist International, direct progenitor of the Situationist International. In a series of conversations, Mension recounts this very particular vie de bohème whiled away with Guy Debord and a rogue's gallery of hard drinkers and thinkers.

The Tribe is a rare, vivid tour of a moment and milieu barely noticed at the time by the tourists who flocked to the Left Bank for a glimpse of Sartre & Co. The rich iconography includes many of Ed van der Elsken's celebrated photographs of "the tribe" and a trove of Letterist leaflets and posters. A rare, vivid tour of a moment and milieu barely noticed at the time by the tourists flocking to Saint-Germain for a glimpse of Sartre & Co.

"The Tribe relates the Parisian wanderings of a heterogeneous group of individuals who cultivated laziness and revolt, alcohol and talk, drift and chance, creative hopes and encounters . . . in quest of a Rimbaldian derangement of all the senses, of détournement of art and daily life in the defiance of order, by vandalism, by deliquency, but also by an altogether contemporary quest for a supersession of Marxism."--Le Monde libertaire

"In his oral memoir The Tribe, Jean-Michel Mension provides a useful context for [Guy] Debord's particular estrangement from postwar modernity. Mension reveals a multicultural dimension that is rarely explored in the burgeoning literature on this group . . . "--McKenzie Wark, Bookforum

"Mension, who began submitting writing to the Letterist journal at 18, recounts life in this fascinating, emphatically improvident, quasi-anarchist subculture, delivering vivid anecdotes and a still-fresh scoff-law sensibility."--Publishers Weekly

Jean-Michel Mension (1934 - 2006) misspent his youth in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the early 1950s before joining the Communist Party in 1962 and the Ligue Communiste in 1968. The Tribe is Mension's first book; he published his second in 2001: Le Temps gage: aventures politiques et artistique d'un irrégulier à Paris.

Product Details

$14.95  $13.75
City Lights Publishers - City Lights Publishe
Publish Date
October 01, 2001
6.01 X 0.45 X 8.94 inches | 0.46 pounds
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About the Author

Donald Nicholson-Smith is an English-born translator who lives in New York City.