UGE 10/18 to Champ Libre
12 May 1977
My dear Floriana:

Georges Kiejman, who I met yesterday evening, spoke to me of the problems concerning Ciliga.[1] I am as dismayed by this absurd situation as you are.

For thirty years, no one has been interested in this book and [now] two editions must appear on the market at the same time. This is as regrettable as it is distressing. But I’d like you to be reassured of something. If I’d known you had signed a contract with Ciliga and that you had the project [in hand], I probably would have canceled mine, and I’ve never had the intention of beating you through speediness, because I only quite recently learned the news of your edition, at a time when my book was already printed and wrapped.

I read Ciliga’s work when it was reprinted by Iles D’or and for years I’ve intended to reprint it. I’ve had great difficulty [un mal fou] finding a copy and signing a contract with Gallimard,[2] and I only delayed publication, not because of indifference, but because I am overwhelmed by all the other books I’ve taken on for [Editions] 10/18. Our mutual friend Max Chaleil, who directs the 10/18 series called “Noir et Rouge,” went into action when the interview with Ciliga was published in L’Observateur and right then I scheduled the book for spring. It comes out in several days, and I can only advise you to delay your complete edition for a little while.

I also make clear to you that I’ve never had the intention of placing myself on a contentious plane with you; I am only surprised by Gallimard’s announcement of our two simultaneous publications.

I am very sorry about all this and ask that you, dear Floriana, believe in my very cordial sentiments.

Christian Bourgois

[1] The Yugoslavian writer Anton Ciliga (1898-1992).

[2] Gallimard published the first French translation of Ciliga’s book, In the Country of the Big Lie, in 1938.

Champ Libre to UGE 10/18
2 June 1977

Georges Kiejman spoke to you about the “Ciliga problems” and you are, you say, “as dismayed by this absurd situation as you are.” So as to reassure you, I will say that we are not dismayed, and that we don’t understand the problems to which you allude.

On 10 February 1977, we signed a contract with Mr. Ciliga for the complete re-edition of all his works about Russia in a single volume, the publication of which will take place at the beginning of September. Thus we are the only true publisher of Mr. Ciliga. If all this is “regrettable” or “distressing,” that’s a question of judgments that belong to you [alone].

Having read Mr. Ciliga’s work as published by Iles d’Or, you’ve “intended to reprint it for years,” but you had “great difficulty finding a copy,” with the result that one wonders how you were able to read it [recently]. But let’s move on. Your intention being to publish it, you didn’t, not because you were “indifferent,” but because you were “overwhelmed,” not by Ciliga’s book, of course, but by “all the others” that you’d “taken on for 10/18.” As a result, it was only on the occasion of an interview with Mr. Ciliga published in Le Nouvel Observateur, and on the insistence of Mr. Max Chaleil that you right away “scheduled the book for spring.” These are the clarifications in the form of justifications that will not fail to interest Mr. Ciliga.

With respect to Mr. Max Chaleil (unduly described as our mutual friend), I’ve only met this person twice over the course of the last several years to reject the book proposals that he has submitted to me.

You “never had the intention” of placing yourself “on a contentious plane” and for good reason, because on such a plane your position isn’t good, but if it is only considered with respect to the author, it is atrocious.

You’ve had the kindness to advise us to delay our edition for a while, and I will permit myself to suggest to you that you forget this project [of yours].

I ask you to accept, Sir, the expression of my distinguished sentiments.

Gérard Lebovici

UGE 10/18 to Champ Libre
Paris, 6 June 1977
My dear colleague,

Your letter of 2 June staggers me, as much by its tone as by its content.

Personally, I only know one true “publisher” of Au pays du grande mensonge, now become Au pays du mensonge déconcertant: Editions Gallimard. I signed a contract in good and due form with them, and Mr. Boyer and Mrs. Deybach at Gallimard, as well as Mr. Kiejman, their attorney, assured me that Mr. Ciliga was perfectly up-to-date concerning this transfer and that he had written to accept it. Editions Gallimard have never canceled the contract that ties me to them, [and they] have been kept perfectly up-to-date concerning my delay and the date of the work’s publication. Only Editions Gallimard can be opposed to the distribution of the book by 10/18, which they have absolutely no intention of being because they are in step with 10/18.

I don’t understand how Mr. Ciliga could sign the contract with you when he had recently strengthened Gallimard – in his capacity as transferor of the rights to his book – through the exchange of letters that he had with them, and when he had preferred to evaluate the situation with Gallimard and 10/18 before signing the contract with you.[1]

I ask you to find herein, My dear colleague, the assurance of my distinguished sentiments.

Christian Bourgois

[1] According to Philippe Bourrinet, author of an article on Ciliga, on 14 October 1977 Le Monde reported that the “republication in 10/18 was seized at the request of Ciliga.” That is to say, seized and pulped.

(Published in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance, Vol. 1, Editions Champ Libre, Paris, 1978. Translated from the French and footnoted by NOT BORED! June 2012.)

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