Radical Translation Workshop, An Anarchist Playbook


Tenement Press / No University Press #1
ISBN: 978-1-7393851-3-2
210pp [Approx.] / 140 x 216mm
Edited by Sanja Perovic, Rosa Mucignat,
Jacob McGuinn, & Cristina Viti
with the NoUP editors,
Dominic Jaeckle & Benjamin Pickford
Designed and typeset by Traven T. Croves


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.

An Anarchist Playbook is an excavation of future thinking. In its radical mode of communal translation, it recovers equally radical political energies.

Adam Thirlwell

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

Mitch Abidor

Let us not forget that numerous writers have situated the prosperity of nations in the multiplicity of needs, the ever-increasing diversity of material enjoyments, ceaseless toil, unlimited commerce, rapid circulation of currency, and in the last analysis, in the restless and insatiable greed of citizens. […] And while some have deemed the brutish misery of the workforce necessary to the prosperity of the whole, others have offered unlimited trade and financial liberty as a remedy to present inequality, thus paving the way for further corruption and renewed inequalities.

Philippe Buonarroti

The Conspiracy of Equals (1796) is often hailed as the first revolution against a revolutionary state. Even if the conspirators were soon found out and put on trial, their ideas of radical equality and liberty shaped future generations of revolutionaries worldwide. An Anarchist Playbook—the first publication in Tenement’s new imprint, No University Press—gathers together many of the key documents from their trial across a myriad forms, with a number of these texts appearing herein in their first English-language translation.

Assembled in the Playbook are the last words of Gracchus Babeuf, the leader of the conspiracy and a radical proponent of the abolition of private property, and 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; 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 (and that the Workshop is in the process of adapting for contemporary audiences). Many of these texts were never published in their own time, and form a part of the testament left behind by Philippe Buonarroti, a leading conspirator who inspired new generations of revolutionaries across Europe over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Among the best known works included is the Manifesto of Equals, long considered a founding text of social, communist and anarchist revolutions. The Playbook presents a translation of the Manifesto alongside other key texts by the conspirators, reconstructing the richness and variety of revolutionary communication that informs the editorship, shape, and scope of this volume.

The works gathered in the Playbook were written in the context of a collective struggle for greater rights and equality, and the translations assembled in this collection have been produced collaboratively in an attempt to bring this collective process back to life. This publication is the outcome of a set of co-translations written by the Radical Translation Workshop; 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.

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

See here for a further word on this title.

See here for a further word on the ongoing work of the Radical Translations collective.

Workshop Participants:

Sarah Méric-Ducos;
Élisabeth Heid;
Kathryn Woods;
Katharine Morris;
Erin Bradshaw;
Rachel Isaacs;
Esmond Easton Lamb;
Claire Ó Nuállain;
Maria Aliboni;
Giovanna Demopoulos;
Iffat Mirza;
Andra Damaschin;
Katie-Rose Nandhra;
Felicity Moffat;
Theodora Broyd;
Jessica Hooper ...


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.

Jacob McGuinn obtained a PhD in English at Queen Mary in 2017. His main research interests are in reading philosophical aesthetics and poetics from a comparative perspective, working across English, French, and German. He has a particular interest in Kantian philosophy and its redeployment in later contexts, in correlations of form and history in literature, and in thinking about the points of contact between literature, philosophy, and politics in conceptions of reading and interpretation. His work on these issues has appeared, recently, in Textual Practice and Modern Language Notes. for Radical Translations, he works on the database of translations, and in particular on conceptualising the literary dimensions of the materials.

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; see here), 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.