Released: October 1, 2008
Michèle Bernstein's novel, All the King’s Horses (1960), is one of the odder and more elusive, entertaining, and revealing documents of the Situationist International. At the instigation of her first husband, Guy Debord, Bernstein agreed to write a potboiler to help swell the Situationist International's coffers. When she objected to the idea of practicing a "dead art," Debord suggested that it would be instead be détournement—the Situationist reuse of media toward different, subversive, ends. A moneymaker for the most radical front of the French avant-garde, the novel (by its very success) demonstrated the bankruptcy of contemporary French letters and the Situationist contempt for the psychological novel, while (perhaps unintentionally) holding up a playful mirror to the private lives of two of the Situationist International's most important members. All the King's Horses is a slippery rewrite of Dangerous Liaisons with Debord playing the role of cold libertine, Bernstein as his cohort, and disguised walk-on roles by the likes of the painter Asger Jorn and others.