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Leslie Kaplan's Fiction-in-Verse Narrates the 1968 Factory Revolts in France


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Bookforum has published an excerpt from Excess—The Factory, a book of fiction-in-verse by Leslie Kaplan, originally published in French in 1968. Kaplan, who was born in the US but subsequently moved to France, spent the late 1960s working in French factories as a Maoist établis—an intellectual who enters factory work to research labor conditions and build solidarity. Excess—The Factory, which was first published in 1968, is based on her experiences there. It is newly translated into English by Julie Carr and Jennifer Pap and published by Commune Editions. You can read a snippet of the excerpt below, or the whole thing on the Bookforum website.

The street is open under the sky of the factory.

Soft open street. The paving stones, all the same.

The entrance gates are very high, splendid.

Weightless carcass, disarticulated and full,

being there, in the courtyard, it is there, the factory.

Parts, scraps and life, the factory.

And brick and tile. And in and out.

And right and left and brick and tile and soft and fat and turn and turn

and life and life and wood and nail and iron and iron and in and out

and turn and noise.

Never a cry. The factory.

Parts scraps and life, the factory, and iron and iron and life and life and

brick and tile and in and out and life and life and nail and nail.

You don’t know, you can’t know.

Image: A still from Harun Farocki’s film Workers Leaving the Factory (1995). Via fact.co.uk.