To Gérard Lebovici
From Gérard Guégan, Jean-Yves Guiomar, Alain Le Saux and Raphael Sorin
Paris, Monday 21 October 1974


Gérard Guégan, literary director of Editions Champ Libre, has informed us of two conversations that he had with Gérard Lebovici on 24 and 27 September 1974. Gérard Lebovici, after having refused to publish the new novel by Gérard Guégan and described as “useless” issue #2 of Cahiers du Futur, which was devoted to [the theme of] dictatorship, declared himself “worried” about the upcoming publications of Champ Libre. He had doubts about the publication of Pierre Herbart’s manuscript and Raoul Haussmann’s Dada manifestoes. Gérard Guégan then declared that he was in complete disagreement with this manner of proceeding and cut short the conversation of 27 September.

In fact, the opinions stated by Gérard Lebovici have again put into doubt his own status, his competence, and his function with Champ Libre, and inversely furnished the other members of the publishing house with the occasion to define their status, their competence, and their functions.

Champ Libre was created immediately after May 68 without its founders – to recall: Gérard Guégan and Gérard Lebovici, and later Alain Le Saux and Floriana Lebovici[1] – feeling the need to make precise the roles that each person would play in the production by or the publicity for this publishing house. The character of each person, but especially their respective positions in the company, made it so that for the public, and even for professionals in the publishing field, Champ Libre ended up being the creation of a single one of its founders, the others remaining in the shadows. Which probably explains the fact that, identifying himself with Champ Libre, Gérard Lebovici, [especially] in the last few months, had more and more observations – which were minor in appearance – that had already forced the [other] members of Champ Libre to precisely redefine their respective statuses and positions: criticisms of book covers, choices of titles and translations, editing of back covers and the forced deletion of the text that presented the “Chute Libre”[2] Collection. These observations were always negative and no longer accompanied a desire to participate in discussions, weekly or impromptu, which – at Champ Libre, as elsewhere – allow the ceaseless reorientation of production. Faced with these criticisms, which seemed to them to be completely arbitrary, unfounded and expressed by someone who was detaching himself more and more from the everyday reality of their work, the [other] members of Champ Libre ended up yielding or making concessions, without ever deciding to discuss the heart of the matter. Today’s that no longer the case.

Indeed, the adoption of the personal tastes of Gérard Lebovici as the rule of thumb [regle de choix] for publication would mean, for us, accepting unilateral decisions made by someone who occupies the role of [financial] capital. In the short term, this would mean the dismemberment of the 1975 publication schedule, since we would be required to:

– abandon the Cahiers du Futur formula (while in the last two weeks L’Express, Le Monde, Les Nouvelles Littéraires, Le Figaro, La Quinzaine Littéraire, etc. have all recognized its importance), several titles of which are in preparation: “Image and Occupation,” [and] “Expressionism and Dada in Berlin”;

– suspend the “Projectoires” Collection, the next titles in which are ready: “Haussmann’s Manifestoes,” [and] Erik Satie’s “Complete Writings”;

– not publish two manuscripts already accepted by the Champ Libre team: “The Eternal Return,” an unpublished work by Pierre Herbart, and “The Irregulars,” a novel by Gérard Guégan. In this regard, by rejecting Gérard Guégan’s second novel, Gérard Lebovici not only acted as a censor who has the right to veto, but also went against Champ Libre’s [best] interests. The critical success obtained by the first novel by Gérard Guégan, [who was,] moreover, Champ Libre’s literary director, amply justified the publication of the second one, even if one expected controversy concerning its contents.[3] Its publication by another publisher could only mean that Gérard Guégan wasn’t confident enough in the publishing house that he directed and could serve as an argument for those who still hesitate to entrust Champ Libre with manuscripts, frightened [as they are] by its reputation – contradicted by the facts – for sectarianism and esotericism. This would have been different if La Rage au Coeur had been published by a competitor.

This situation arose at the very moment that several new factors augured well for Champ Libre’s future:

– Net progress of sales in 1974, which would be, as far as we know, a financially balanced year;

– Champ Libre has lost its “marginal” corporate image, lagging behind certain ultra-Leftist tendencies, to the benefit of a production that – for the bookstores, the press, and the public – now enters domains as diverse as history, philosophy, strategy, aesthetics, French and foreign-language novels, and documents;

– Champ Libre has seen its publications be the subject of many commentaries in the written press, on television and the radio. In general, this criticism has recognized the seriousness and [high] quality of the work, and this has allowed the members of Champ Libre to express their options publicly (“Open the Quotation Marks,” “Italics,” etc.).

The undersigned estimate the results obtained to be very encouraging and declare themselves decided to continue, according to the communally adopted plan.

They furthermore recall that several initiatives, undertaken without their opinions having been truly taking account of, have had regrettable consequences: for example, the “Bibliotheque Asiatique” Collection, which has published a single French volume since its creation, the second volume having been abandoned at the final stage due to its lack of profitability (cost of the operation was 27,000 francs) and the incompetence of the collection’s director;[4] and the financing of the project entitled “The Encyclopedia of Appearances,” for which sizable advances were paid, and which will never be completed.


In these conditions, we have unanimously decided upon the following.

1) As the people responsible for the diverse aspects of Champ Libre’s production, we believe that the publication schedule for 1975, decided upon by us, is in conformity with the goals for the firm originally defined by the founders of Champ Libre. (See the schedule for 1975, appended to this text.[5])

It is clear that questioning the whole or part of this schedule can be something that is only done by those responsible for the books and art of Champ Libre, and according to a topicality that publishing must take into account. To them alone does it fall to modify the order of publication of the scheduled work, [or] to suppress or include new ones.

2) We can only adapt the rhythm of publication and the choice of works in a manner that accentuates the recorded quantitative and qualitative progress if we have real decision-making power as far as the management of Champ Libre goes. To do otherwise would be to produce objects that we can’t see being exploited on the market, and we [would] run the risk of compromising the very existence of Champ Libre. Thus it appears to us that the creation of the post of Commercial Director, who would have the power to manage and to work in close liaison with us, is necessary. We ask for the creation of this post, effective 1 January 1975, all the more so because Gérard Lebovici has too often confounded production and distribution, and because the only way of not falling back into a similar heresy is the everyday control of the services that the Centre de Diffusion de l’Edition [CDE] sells us.

3) As intellectual workers, we must also redefine what has been too often hidden or altered in the facts, that is to say, the function of each person in Editions Champ Libre. For the moment, we divide ourselves as follows: Gérard Guégan, literary director; Jean-Yves Guiomar, chief of production and head of history; Alain Le Saux, artistic director; Raphael Sorin, head of the foreign domain; [and] Floriana Lebovici, head of press relations and foreign rights.

Since each of us has assumed several tasks as they have come up, this organization doesn’t always correspond with reality. Thus Gérard Guégan has, to only mention the most recent past, reviewed the sales sheets from the CDE. Thus, because the post occupied by Floriana Lebovici has been revealed to be much too heavy [for one person], and because the number of press contacts has grown, all the [other] members of Champ Libre have had to mobilize themselves to reveal and defend their choices. Thus, each one finds himself in the position of “editor” and it is fitting to keep this fact in mind.

4) Only these conditions, revealed in points 1, 2 and 3, put us – those tasked with Champ Libre’s production – in a position to (a) publish, with optimal chances of success, the manuscripts that we are bound by contract to publish and for which the authors have accorded us their confidence, and (b) take on new commitments.

In sum, we demand:

(A) control of the production and management of Champ Libre;

(B) the full responsibility for our options before the only authority that we recognize, as salaried employees, of the firm, [which is] the Reading Committee, which from now on would be composed of the following people: Gérard Guégan, Gérard Lebovici, Raphael Sorin, Alain Le Saux, Jean-Yves Guiomar, [and] Floriana Lebovici;

(C) supervision of the accounts, once a year, on 31 March;

(D) a period of two years [commencing] from the [date of the] current letter, corresponding to the commitments to the authors.

We desire that a response is made to this letter by 8 November. After that date, we will not undertake any new publications.

G. Guégan, J-Y Guiomar, A. Le Saux, R. Sorin

[1] Gérard Lebovici’s wife.

[2] “Free Fall,” in French.

[3] One of its characters, Antoine Peyrot, is clearly (and unfavorably) based on Guy Debord.

[4] René Vienet.

[5] Not appended to the text being translated.

(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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