from Gerard Lebovici

To Jaime Semprun
16 January 1977

When the editor who published an author's first two books (the first 96 pages, the second 126)[1] remarks to him that the manuscript that he submitted was too short, because the subject matter merits a quantitatively more substantial book, the risk of rejection -- for one who knows how to listen -- cannot be put aside.

When this same editor, trying his best to make himself understood, without bruising his author at the same time, adds that the principal subject, the "theses for the Spanish revolution," appears to have been developed too summarily, in a "journalistic" manner; and then gives the Veritable Report[2] as an example of an exhaustive and scientific work, it is obvious -- for one who knows how to listen -- that the editor has the greatest doubts about his interest in publishing the manuscript.

When this same editor insists more heavily, because one didn't understand or didn't want to understand, by advising the author to adopt a form that is more appropriate to this "work of combat," that is to say, the return [renvoie] to militant publishing, to pamphlets; and when the editor in question is Champ Libre (you know from having The Social War [in Portugal] and the Summary [of Recuperation] appreciated how uneasy I am about providing all of our publications with a rigorous relationship between the presentation and the nature of the work), there are even more doubts, the editor doesn't want to publish this work.

This much you have understood, but by relating the essence of the remarks made at the time of our next-to-last meeting in a disorderly and incomplete fashion, you give the totality a cloudy, hazy and uncertain side that doesn't fail to find itself confirmed by your whimsical analysis and dumfounding conclusions.

What you fail to make precise is what I said about your text on 22 October 1976, at Champ Libre, at the time of an interview that lasted longer than an hour; I only confirmed my rejection to you very briefly (an interview lasting a few minutes) around December 1976.[3]

But that's not all we said on 22 October. I agreed to discuss [things] with you; I revealed the holes, the particular faults that I found in the text. You agreeed that I was partly right; you said that you would add a certain number of specifications and developments, and that you would report back to me in under two weeks, but, without going into detail, you added "this will not change the nature of the work: in short, this is my style, my temperament" (no doubt you were thinking of [Balthasar] Gracian, while I had in mind the apprentice authors who take such pride in their mastery and their thought and their style that it is useless to blacken hundreds of white pages, at the risk of wearying the reader: for them, a big book is much too long; inversely, their books are short because they are dense and concise -- it isn't Debord who wants this -- and not because they have little or nothing to say).

And here I made a mistake, a very great mistake. I should have been clearer, so as to discourage you still more strongly, but I didn't believe that I had the duty to do so: you are a Champ Libre author; the work doesn't please me; you don't seem to understand what I strive to explain to you with some precaution.

So, I was wrong. Because an editor listens (you re-worked a part of the Summary on my directions and from the critiques that I made to you), I have suddenly become an editor of bad faith, capable of the worst caprices.

Debord has explained the more or less malevolent stupidities peddled in the Leftist trashcans on the subject of his relationship with Champ Libre at length and irrefutably.[4] He isn't the author of the Summary (you definitively exist). He influences me, there's no doubt, and I am honored by this; but to reduce me to the sole reality of "capricious" merchant, which could only be a signature, that is an audacious leap into the fantasm that comforts [arrangerait] more than one and that will be the despair of many.

You have, you say, "joyously burned all those in Paris who are usable publishers," but you recognize that this doesn't oblige me to publish your books all the time. So! This possibility that you have generously offered to me of not publishing all of your works -- I seize it, before you accord it to me, which is a little sooner, no doubt, than you would have anticipated.

Gerard Lebovici

[1] Jaime Semprun's Summary of Recuperation, illustrated by a number of examples drawn from recent history was published by Champ Libre in 1975. It was followed in 1976 by The Social War in Portugal.

[2] See the book attributed to Censor (Gianfranco Sanguinetti), which was translated from the Italian into French by Guy Debord and published by Champ Libre in January 1976.

[3] See the letter Semprun wrote to Debord on 17 December 1976.

[4] See the letter Debord wrote to Semprun on 26 December 1976.

(Published in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance, Volume I. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2006.)

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