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The Century

The Century

Alain Badiou

ISBN: 978-0-745-63632-0 April 2007 Polity 248 Pages


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Everywhere, the twentieth century has been judged and condemned: the century of totalitarian terror, of utopian and criminal ideologies, of empty illusions, of genocides, of false avant-gardes, of democratic realism everywhere replaced by abstraction.

It is not Badiou's wish to plead for an accused that is perfectly capable of defending itself without the authors aid. Nor does he seek to proclaim, like Frantz, the hero of Sartre's Prisoners of Altona, 'I have taken the century on my shoulders and I have said: I will answer for it!' The Century simply aims to examine what this accursed century, from within its own unfolding, said that it was. Badiou's proposal is to reopen the dossier on the century - not from the angle of those wise and sated judges we too often claim to be, but from the standpoint of the century itself.

Translating The Century


1. Search for a Method

2. The Beast

3. The Unreconciled

4. A New World. Yes, but When?

5. The Passion for the Real and the Montage of Semblance

6. One Divides into Two

7. Sex in Crisis

8. Anabasis

9. Seven Variations

10. Cruelties

11. Avant-gardes

12. The Infinite

13. The Joint Disappearances of Man and God

Select Bibliography


Remarks on the Translation

"The lesson of the book is: remain faithful to the twentieth century. The Century is not 'the best' book of the last decade, it is simply the book of the last decade! Read it with the proper tremor, aware that you are reading a classic, that a figure like Plato or Hegel walks here among us!"

Slavoj Žižek

"Badiou's sardonically compressed style is never less than pungent."

Steve Poole, The Guardian

  • Major new book by leading French philosopher Alain Badiou
  • This book seeks to examine the last century through a discussion of the politics, literature and drama which brought the century to life
  • Badiou brilliantly argues that the overarching desire of the last century was the search for the true and the real
  • This is a timely and contemporary book which deals with very topical and important issues. It will appeal to followers of Badiou’s work and newcomers to philosophy and cultural studies alike.