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First As Tragedy, Then As Farce Paperback – 19 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (19 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844674282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844674282
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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A characteristically enjoyable development of his recent journalistic commentary (Berlusconi as Kung Fu Panda), which digs joyfully into the ideological cracks of the financial crisis so as to enlarge them, and declares confidently that 'The future will thus be communist . . . or socialist'. --Steven Poole, Guardian

A typically trenchant account of the farce of capitalism and future of communism, which in Zizek's hands is a flaming red banner confronting and affronting the deadly grey of capitalist conformity, confirming him as one of our most daring and unsparing contemporary thinkers. --Times Higher Education Supplement

Electrifying … Revel in the way he can zero in on the absurdities and contradictions of the modern world. -- Nick Lezard, Guardian 'Zizek, a Marxist, writes with passion and an aphoristic energy that is spellbinding… a great provocateur and an immensely suggestive and even dashing writer.' --LA Times

About the Author

SLAVOJ ZIZEK is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By T. J. H. Marshall on 5 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
There was once a time that the release of a new book from the 'Giant of Ljubliana' would be awaited with baited breath. It is perhaps a sign of Zizek's entry into the intellectual mainstream that his work is now regarded more as a literary window dressing than a genuine 'event'. I am pleased to say that this work is (or at least should be) a return to his provocative and relevant best.

For those who are unfamiliar with Zizek's thought, this is perhaps as good a place to enter his oeuvre as anywhere else. It gives a strong and readable introduction to his rhizomatic style of writing (and thought) and gives ample (although perhaps less sustained than in some of his other works) example of the inter-textuality he employs. It is also consistent with the central theses of his thought. In this, he is still as much of an heir to Hegel and Kant as he is Lacan and takes care to situate ideology as the central problem of 21st Century politics. As ever, Zizek writes about this in a way which assumes no prior knowledge, although encouraging and helping the reader to delve deeper into the folds of Lacanian and Marxian thought.

Those seasoned readers of Zizek who expect a rehash of his previous ideas, augmented with little more than new cultural data may be somewhat surprised. Where Zizek's recent works tended towards writing about new cultural phenomena in the context of his political project, this book is a fairly radical step in his political project, provoked by the best stimulant of philosophical creativity; events. Of particular interest will be the second part of the book, which acts as something of a manifesto for post-Fukuyaman communism, exaggerating the break with liberal universalism that he makes with his earlier work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. S. Cowden on 14 July 2010
Format: Paperback
I came to this book with a degree of scepticism - along the lines of what can people like Zizek actually offer to the task of reconstructing left wing politics from the dismal fatalism that defines much of the demoralised project that once was the left. I came away deeply impressed with both Zizek's incisiveness and his capacity to be inspriring, even if, as previous reviewers have noted, he avoids directly adddressing the question of what people who want to change things should actually do.
The book is divided into two sections - the first addressing the question of ideology, and the second a concise restatement of how Communism needs to be and must be the banner of those who stand against the present order of things. The first chapter is impressive for the way he so accurately nails the ideology of neo-liberalism in all its poisonous pervasiveness. Like all really good critique, he makes the enemy both visible and ridiculous in its brutality. As previous reviewers have noted, he goes back to Hegel and Kant to develop his critique of contemporary neo-liberalism - this may be off-putting to some readers, and this book demands too high a degree of literacy for it ever to become really popular. Nonetheless the tonic of his argument about the way we are constantly interpolated by an essentially utopian vision of neoliberalism which at the same time repudiates all non-capitalist utopias is brilliant.
The second half of the book is equally powerful and simply restates the idea of Communism, almost as something immanent within capitalism, but at the same time as the set of ideas which really takes on and at the same time poses a genuine alternative to capitalist social relations.
Will this book actually become the touchstone for re-inspiring the campaigning activist movement we so desperately need at the moment? It is too early to say, but in the meanwhile, give this book a serious read.
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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful By J. Gullick on 25 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
The intellectual composting of the entire world continues with another Zizek release: First as Tragedy, Then as Farce. This is what would probably be termed a "political intervention." Zizek has never shied away from politics, be it at home in Slovenia, or in the EU and America; indeed, embarrassingly to many of the commentariat, he often manages to churn out prescient journalism and reflections about subjects which local writers can only flail at. So it was with Thatcherism, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and most recently Italian politics and the Iranian elections.

Like his other recent political "pamphlet," Violence, this latest book is a concise distillation of the various re-occurring themes in Zizek's work, but, unlike that book, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce is less bricolage, and may well be as close to a Zizekian manifesto as we will ever come -replete with self-references, cut-and-paste passages and even a footnote pointing us to Wikipedia. The book is broken into two sections, the first ostensibly re-asserts ideology as the pre-eminent problematic with which we are dealing, even though depression appears "economically determined". The second section picks up the theme Zizek has been debating over the last year: communist possibilities and revolutionary potential.

This books marks the end of any apologism for Zizek about communism, indeed, after several years of noting that the Left must embrace it's troubled past, Stalinist warts and all, we are here enjoined to end Leftist guilt once and for all. Zizek is sick of ruminating on purges and gulags. Instead it is the capitalists and their apologists who need to begin explaining themselves.
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