Speaking East

The Strange and Enchanted Life of Isidore Isou

Andrew Hussey

Speaking East

Andrew Hussey

Distributed for Reaktion Books

324 pages | 7 color plates, 30 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 9781789144925 Will Publish October 2021 For sale in North and South America only
A vibrant account of both the sensuous cultural scene of postwar Paris and the life of an alluring icon of modern art.
 
Isidore Isou was a young Jew in wartime Bucharest who barely survived the Romanian Holocaust. He made his way to Paris, where, in 1945, he founded the avant-garde movement Lettrism, described as the missing link between Dada, Surrealism, Situationism, and May ’68. In Speaking East, Andrew Hussey presents a colorful picture of the postwar Left Bank, where Lettrist fists flew in avantgarde punch-ups in Jazz clubs and cafés, and where Isou—as sexy and as charismatic as the young Elvis—gathered around him a group of hooligan disciples who argued, drank, and had sex with the Parisian intellectual élite. This is a vibrant account of the life and times of a pivotal figure in the history of modern art.
Review Quotes
Will Self, author of "The Quantity Theory of Insanity" and "Umbrella"
“Isou’s life is at once tragic and farcical: a whirling reprise of all of the twentieth century’s artistic avantgardes played out against the backdrop of Paris’s Left Bank in its heyday. Hussey is the ideal chronicler, and his biography, with its exuberant prose, both channels Isou’s restless creativity and positions it within the main currents of postwar French thought. Essential reading.”
Sebastian Faulks, author of "Birdsong"
"A sympathetic account of an extraordinary life. Hussey has the depth of historical understanding necessary to do justice both to Isidore Isou’s glamorous, sometimes absurd, life as a hero of the Left Bank and to the horrors of the Romanian Holocaust he had escaped. This is an expertly told story about Paris, Europe, and the interplay of private passion and public trauma."
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