From Gérard Lebovici
To Gérard Guégan, Jean-Yves Guiomar, Alain Le Soux, Raphael Sorin
Paris, 28 October 1974


My first remark concerns the procedure utilized by Gérard Guégan, literary director of Champ Libre, and adopted by the other signatories to the note of 21 October, which was sent to me on 26 October 1974.

It so happens that the relationships between the remarks that are attributed to me all through this note are incomplete, tendentious and, consequently, falsified. It could not be otherwise. Indeed, informing three people who were absent from the conversations I had with Gérard Guégan and [then] writing a text that unilaterally determines the content of those conversations, without understanding me, is a procedure that no [Communist] party apparatus would disavow.


Let’s take up the history of the facts.

In the course of the conversations that I had with Gérard Guégan on 24 and 27 September 1974, I informed him very precisely of my positions concerning two questions:

1) on 24 September, I declared that if he persisted in his intention of publishing “The Irregulars” (which in my opinion would only disserve him), I wouldn’t want it published by Champ Libre.

2) on 27 September, I confirmed my decision, by asking him to take the initiative of getting his book published by another publisher, which he would have no difficulty finding due to the particularly positive reviews given to La Rage au Coeur.

On a second occasion, I shared with the director of Cahiers du Futur important criticisms of the quality of the work, done for issue #2, under his responsibility: [the theme of] Dictatorship. In a more general fashion, I was worried about the editorial perspectives of Champ Libre, not so much at the level of concrete projects as [at the level of] their inscription in an overall strategy.

The elevated qualitative level of the works published by Champ Libre (collective works, works by living or dead authors) obliges us, in fact, to a more and more rigorous selection and, consequently, to a larger intervention. Champ Libre must initiate projects, and it is in this sense that its activity will be stimulating, but control over the product must belong to it, so as to improve it as necessary at the highest level of its possibilities.

This was, in sum, the essential of what I said to Gérard Guégan over the course of dinner, and this in the form of a rambling conversation. He being the one who didn’t want to discuss things with me, the dinner was cut short.


Given the distortion of my thinking that Gérard Guégan has underhandedly effectuated, I specify what my positions are concerning the published texts and the projected ones that we spoke of.

Cahiers du Futur #2: Dictatorship. The assembled texts are excellent and this isn’t what’s at issue. What I contest, what I find to be flat and banal, confused/confusing and hardly serious in both thought and expression, is the discourse concerning these texts. This is all the more shocking because this is a journal that appears twice a year (one has time to work in six months) and that has a greatly sophisticated presentation.

Drawing arguments from the praises of those whom you consider to be ignorant pen-pushers in the cultural establishment, as a way of demonstrating the excellence of the product, isn’t convincing to me. This said, I never said that I would like to abandon publication of this journal.

Pierre Herbart. I did indeed indicate my doubts about the interest of publishing a film script, but did not reject its publication.

“Projectoires” Collection. The collection began brilliantly with the texts by Ribemont-Dessaignes. It was a good book, and it seems to me I said so. I have no doubts concerning the interest of publishing Haussmann’s book and, consequently, Champ Libre must continue to publish this collection.

The Irregulars by G. Guégan. I have already written what I think of it. I would be going against Champ Libre’s [best] interests by agreeing to publish it. Thus, I alone take responsibility for this decision. I find this work to be useless (this adjective was intended for Guégan’s book, and not Cahiers du Futur, as he falsely reported) and a failure, and I see more inconvenience if Champ Libre publishes it, rather than someone else.

It seems so obvious to me that my role and status at Champ Libre grants me the right to veto that I am surprised to learn how much time it took you to discover this.

Zo d’Axa. Although they merit being read, these texts appear to me to have a more just place in a collection like “10/18” than in the “Classics of Subversion” framework, where the list price would be 30 francs.

For me, the question that merits being studied is that of the necessity of pursuing this collection [as a whole].


Suddenly and without warning, the status, competence and function of the signatory [Gérard Lebovici] are put into doubt. One demands that he keep his place, that is to say, financial capital (mute? shameful?); that he not intervene in any fashion in the editorial schedule, which can only be done by the literary and artistic directors of Champ Libre (why not me?), those who – as salaried workers – only recognize as supreme authority the Reading Committee through which they become their own patrons, thus dissolving the role of capital by a subversion of all economic laws.

Just the same, in this Reading Committee and, no doubt, due to concerns about liberalism, the signatory [Gérard Lebovici] would have his place in the second position[1] (but with what title?). The order in which the members of the Committee are listed, not being alphabetical, has some meaning, I imagine. . . .

This structure has the merit of being original. Indeed, it marks the first time in [the history of] a modern (publishing) company that the salaried workers are intellectuals who will no longer be accountable to capital.

Independently of these discussions about the role of capital, the signatories to the note of 21 October seem to want to forget a fundamental point: as they know, I was at the origin of the foundation of Champ Libre, but my role in production hasn’t been limited to that. The importance of my participation in this production cannot be removed: it is real, active, and unquestionable, and has often been determining from the point of view of the texts published as well as from that of the work that was done on the manuscripts. G. Guégan knows this perfectly well, more and better than anyone else.

Consequently, I am fully co-responsible for the glory as well as the failures of Champ Libre.

We agreed with G. Guégan on the principle of either weekly or biweekly meetings. I attended these meetings, then did so no more. Why are these meetings no longer held? Or why not without me? When did the last one take place?

Could someone communicate the minutes to me? The essential of what was said in the course of these meetings is, I believe, set down in a big book that must be found at Champ Libre. I would very much like to glance through it.

Today you discover, after a period of reflection that lasted several years (at least it did in the case of G. Guégan), that my interventions into production were and are arbitrary and unfounded. But why didn’t you say so sooner, why did you allow them to be accepted and have them be made into yours?

My critical position on the translations is arbitrary and unfounded? Guiomar and Le Saux, who never heard these criticisms: how do you know this? Guégan: why did you agree to rework the text by Zelazny following my suggestions, after having agreed that I was right? Sorin: why did you agree with all of my criticisms after I read the second [text by] Farmer? Why did both approve when, in a more general fashion, I came to regret how little work was accomplished by the people responsible for “Chute Libre”[2] when it came to directing, improving and/or supervising the tasks at hand more effectively?

As for poor [René] Viénet, Guégan was wrong to be so severe with him. Must I recall for him that, beyond the “Bibliotheque Asiatique,” which had its moment of glory when it published its first work in French,[3] Viénet was responsible for the creation of the “Classics of Subversion” Collection, in the framework of which G. Guégan published a collection of texts by G. Darien, preceded by a preface entitled “Burst Democracy.” (But who in fact came up with this title?)

The publication of Simon Leys’ book was an important stage in the history of Champ Libre. It is true that the director of the “Bibliotheque Asiatique” Collection has failed his mission and we have taken the necessary steps. But it is to falsify history to pretend today that the engagement of R. Viénet as director of that collection was done without the unanimous agreement of Champ Libre.

As for the Voyer project,[4] I’d like to know when and by whom a negative opinion was expressed. Guégan: why did you receive him so often at your office? Did you say to him once that his project didn’t interest you? I do not remember if this was when we lunched together at Vieux Paris. Did you inform me of your position when you agreed to pay him, as a deposit and “in the name of History,” a thousand francs a month until the delivery of his text?


A co-founder of Champ Libre implies that my position (and/or my character) in the firm (?) has meant that, for the public (but which public?) and even for professionals in publishing (but who are they?), Champ Libre has become my thing. From there to me identifying myself with Champ Libre, the others remaining in the shadows, there is only a step that I would happily take for all the reasons that he divines, which quite obviously explains the increase in my criticisms and observations.

This is a nice tissue of counter-truths, and I challenge anyone to even begin making the least proof of such assertions.

That said, the rigor of your psychological demonstration is striking to me, and troubles me where the one or those who constructed it is concerned.

Did not the inventor of this brilliant theory project his own fantasies and desires?


There are a certain number of questions evoked in your note to which I do not believe it would be useful to respond.

Given the gravity of the problems that have arisen, and my response to them, I ask that we meet on Monday, 4 November at 11 am at Champ Libre.

I reserve the right to develop my arguments and to draw the necessary conclusions from them.

Gérard Lebovici

[1] In his co-signed letter to Lebovici, dated 21 October 1974, Guégan has listed the members of the Reading Committee in the following order: “Gérard Guégan, Gérard Lebovici, Raphael Sorin, Alain Le Saux, Jean-Yves Guiomar, [and] Floriana Lebovici.”

[2] “Free fall,” in French.

[3] Simon Leys, The Nine Habits of Mao.

[4] It would appear that “the Voyer project” was, in the words of the letter dated 21 October 1974, “the second volume” that was “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.”

(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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