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books

Greil Marcus' European Dream

Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century, by Greil Marcus. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989, 496 pp., illustrated, $29.95.

GREIL MARCUS’ LIPSTICK TRACES is a story of radical European dissent, and a story of the possibilities of negation as a cultural force. The book sometimes reads inspirationally—as an American mirror image of the European enthusiasm for and, often, overvaluation of dissidence in the United States, especially that of the tight-lipped, insane variety. Marcus’ approach to such European dissident groups as the Anabaptists and the Sex Pistols is lovingly analytic, but the book’s overall impression is of a romantic image formed at a distance—rather as European film critics writing about Hollywood, reversing the direction of Marcus’ gaze, romanticized the trends and subtrends of auteurship in the cinema of the ’50s and ’60s.

Marcus has his story

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