Skip to main content

Please note: this event has passed

An Anarchist Playbook is an essential collection of works that were the roots from which all later revolutionary ideas grew. Skilfully translated and beautifully designed, it belongs in every radical’s library.

Mitch Abidor

These voices from the French Revolution, whether in the form of manifesto, letter, song, or play, ring out for us in the twenty-first century as if they are our contemporaries. And they are! Never did the principle of equality formulated in so many grand constitutions and declarations sound so hollow. Never was it more urgent for the majority to defy the tiny minority that holds power and achieve proper equality for themselves. These remarkable texts in translation speak to the courage, humour and lucidity that is needed. The crowned heads of Europe and the Pope marooned on an island fending for themselves! Just imagine!

Peter Bush

An anthology of translations
pertaining to the ongoing work of
the Radical Translations group: a collective
that looks to the French Revolution to recover
the vitality of Europe’s shared radical past,
via an ongoing experiment in collaborative
translation and collectivity.


Sanja Perovic

Rosa Mucignat

Hélène Parent

Stéphanie Roza


Cristina Viti

Stephen Watts

& Song—

Mikey Kirkpatrick

& more to be confirmed.

An Anarchist Playbook—the first publication in Tenement’s No University Press series—is the outcome of a set of co-translations written by the Radical Translation Workshop (see An informal group that included translators, performers, university students and lecturers from Britain, France and Italy—all united in their desire to find new ways of translating historic revolutionary thought for our present time. Guided by translator, poet, and frequent Tenement collaborator Cristina Viti, the workshops engaged with the liveliness of revolutionary language as participants discussed the meaning of key concepts and expressions and arrived at a shared sense of a translation that would show their relevance in contemporary terms.

This is not an official translation of a number of historical relics, but a living document posing unresolved questions that remain resonant. When does equality become a political project? What do the terms liberty and equality mean today? Such questions both bind these pages and underscore the degree of collectivity that underpins this publication as a collaborative venture.

Assembled in the Playbook are the last words of Gracchus Babeuf, a radical proponent of the abolition of private property and leader of the Conspiracy of Equals (often hailed as the first revolution against a revolutionary state), and that of his fellow conspirator Augustin Darthé, as they faced the guillotine. We’ve a letter, written in the popular idiom of the Sans-Culottes, that urges the common soldier to rebel; the score and lyrics of a street song that names the new class enemy: the wealthy bourgeoisie who have profited from the revolution; and a first-time English translation of The Last Judgement of All Kings. An extraordinary one-act play by Sylvain Maréchal, the unofficial poet of the Conspiracy, that was performed to considerable acclaim in Year II of the Revolution.

In its assembly of ideas and forms—in its envisaging of a revolutionary forum— the Playbook is a celebration of hybridity. Be it the Protean aspect of a revolutionary text as it moves in and out of its immediate context, or the revolutionary practice of translation, collaboration, and creative cooperation itself—this anthology reflects the still ongoing vitality of the ‘workshop’ as a means of approaching the kernel and swell of revolutionary thought today.

Copies of An Anarchist Playbook will be available on the night, alongside an exhibition of pamphlets and materials from the MayDay Rooms Archive, tracing the ideas incumbent in the Playbook through the Twentieth Century and into the Twenty-First.

Sanja Perovic is Reader in Eighteenth-Century French studies at King’s College London. She specialises in the long eighteenth century in France, with publications covering both the French Enlightenment and the French Revolution. She also has broader interests in the politics and representation of time from the early modern period to the present. Her publications include Performance Art and Revolution: Stuart Brisley's Cuts in Time (Manchester University Press, 2023) and The Calendar in Revolutionary France: Perceptions of Time in Literature, Culture, Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2012). In Radical Translations, she is Principal-Investigator with a special interest in how translation functions as a social and historical event.

Rosa Mucignat is Reader in Comparative Literature at King’s College London. She has published widely on nineteenth-century realism, space, and historical thought. As contributor to the Radical Translations project, she is working on political theatre, revolutionary newspapers, focusing in particular on Italo-French relations. Another area of her research focuses on literature in translation, particularly from minority and endangered languages.

Hélène Parent is a lecturer in French literature at the Université de Lorraine. In 2020, she defended a thesis on revolutionary eloquence, published under the title Modernes Cicéron. La romanité des orateurs révolutionnaires (1789-1807). She has published several collective books and papers on the practices and representations of public eloquence in the 18th and 19th centuries. She is currently coordinating the edition of Gracchus Babeuf’s complete works with Stéphanie Roza.

Cristina Viti is a translator and poet working with Italian, English and French. Recent publications include a full translation of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s La rabbia / Anger (Tenement Press, 2022), Luca Rastello’s The Rain’s Falling Up (Seagull Books, 2022), a seminal novel exploring the politics and spirit of the Seventies in Italy; the Selected Poems of Luigi Di Ruscio (Seagull Books, 2023); and a co-translation (with Souheila Haïmiche) of Anna Gréki’s collection Temps forts / The Streets of Algiers (Smokestack Books, 2020). Among earlier translations are the Selected Poems of Dino Campana (Survivors Press, 2006), which includes the full text of the ‘Orphic Songs,’ and Elsa Morante’s The World Saved by Kids and Other Epics (Seagull Books, 2016), shortlisted for the John Florio Prize. Viti’s Italian rendition of Orson Welles’ Moby Dick—Rehearsed is in production with the Teatro dell’Elfo in Milan. Her translation of Furio Jesi’s essays on literature, myth and revolt, Time & Festivity (Seagull Books, 2021) is the subject of one of three video presentations on Jesi commissioned by the Italian Institute in London.

Stephen Watts was born in 1952. His father was from Stoke-on-Trent, and his mother’s family from villages high in the Italian and Swiss Alps. He spent very vital time—in place of university—in northern Scotland, especially the island of North Uist, and—since 1977—has lived mainly in the richly multilingual communities of the Whitechapel area of East London. Geographies and location (as also their negative theologies) are urgent to his life and his work. Recent books include Ancient Sunlight (Enitharmon, 2014; reprinted 2020), Republic of Dogs / Republic of Birds (Test Centre, 2016; Prototype, 2020), and Journeys Across Breath: Poems, 1975–2005 (Prototype, 2022). As a co-translator, Watts has worked closely with exiled poets and, inter alia, has co-translated Pages from the Biography of an Exile by the Iraqi poet Adnan al-Sayegh (Arc, 2014) and Syrian poet Golan Haji’s A Tree Whose Name I Don’t Know (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2017), amongst other publications. Watts’ own poetry has been translated into many languages—with full collections in Italian, Czech, Arabic, German and Spanish—and he works as a contributing editor with Tenement Press.

Mikey Kirkpatrick is a musician (flautist, singer, composer and performer) and associate lecturer in music and education at Goldsmiths University. His research and practice focuses on how deeper listening and musicality can be beneficial and healing for individuals, relationships, communities, societies and the environment at large.

Event details