Cover: Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Twentieth Anniversary Edition, from Harvard University PressCover: Lipstick Traces in PAPERBACK

Lipstick Traces

A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, Twentieth Anniversary Edition

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Product Details


$33.50 • £26.95 • €30.00

ISBN 9780674034808

Publication Date: 11/30/2009


496 pages

6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches

59 halftones, 25 line illustrations

Belknap Press

Not for sale in UK & British Commonwealth (except Canada)

For anybody who wants to go deeper into the ontology of an idea that animates a kind of music, or is illuminated by that music, read Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces, just reissued in an expanded edition for the book’s twentieth anniversary. I often say that Traces is the best book ever written about music, even though it’s not actually about music: it is about the life of an idea.—Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker online

Lipstick Traces has the energy of its obsessions, and it snares you in the manner of those intense, questing and often stoned sessions of intellectual debate you may have experienced in your college years. It was destined, in other words, to achieve cult status.—Ben Brantley, The New York Times

A coruscatingly original piece of work, vibrant with the energy of the bizarre happenings it maps out.—Terry Eagleton, The New York Times Book Review

In 1989, Harvard University Press published Lipstick Traces, the second book by the American writer and critic Greil Marcus. It was a dazzling creation, mapping out an untold ‘secret history’ which connected the Sex Pistols, the Dadaists, the Parisian événements of 1968, that legendary subversive clique the Situationist International and an Anabaptist revolt in 16th-century Germany, led by a notorious libertine named John of Leyden. Among the book’s most ardent fans, it sparked real epiphanies… It stands as a singularly idiosyncratic product of a genre-cum-tradition rooted in the business of writing about musicians and the whirl of ideas that once surrounded them… [Marcus] manages some of the finest music writing ever to make it on to the page… My 20-year-old copy of Lipstick Traces is the one book I would save from my proverbial burning house.—John Harris, The Guardian

Probably the most astute critic of American popular culture since Edmund Wilson.—D. D. Guttenplan, London Review of Books

Greil Marcus has developed an ability to discern an art movement, or an entire country, lurking inside a song.The New Yorker

I first read Lipstick Traces as a penniless traveler, hiding in the bathroom of a late-night express train from Cologne to Berlin. My paranoia was considerably eased as I delved into the lives of various misfits and aesthetic revolutionaries throughout the twentieth century. As dawn broke and the train pulled into the station, I disembarked, feeling not shell-shocked from the conductor’s repeated passes to my stall, but decidedly refreshed.—J. Scott Burgeson, The East Bay Express

The ‘secret’ of Marcus’s history is its poetry…widely separated persons and events call out to each other and ‘connect’ precisely because so many of ordinary history’s causal and syntactic arrangements have been positively negated.—Jerome McGann, London Review of Books

That Marcus can kick off and end his exhaustive, but always clear-headed, cross-epochal trek with the Sex Pistols—and make it all cohere—is but one indication of how fully he meshes the academy and the gutter.—Katherine Dieckmann, The Village Voice Literary Supplement

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