Handwritten dedication by Jean-Patrick Manchette
Reproduced in his novel Le Petit bleu de la cote ouest

To powerful Gérard Lebovici, with a cordiality that is a little distrustful at the moment (12/1/77), but not feigned.

[1] Published by Gallimard, 1976 (Manchette’s dedication was added at the last possible minute).

Jean-Patrick Manchette to Champ Libre
19 January 1977

I learned on 6 January from Jean-Claude Zylberstein that you banned a translation by my wife and another one by me from appearing in the “Chute Libre” Collection. The same day, then with more details on 11 and 18 January, Jean-Claude Zylberstein transmitted to me explanations that, unfortunately, did not appear perfectly intelligible to me. I telephoned Artmedia on 7 January to ask if you would see me, and I was told I’d be called back, but I wasn’t. I ask you a second time to receive and enlighten me (I can be reached by telephone during the afternoon, as I told your secretary), or to respond to me in writing if you prefer. All the same, if you are too busy with your affairs, or if estimate that the explanations given to me by Jean-Claude Zylberstein – namely, that the Spirit of the World, incarnated in Editions Champ Libre, cannot in any way be associated with a recuperator of my caliber or the wife of a recuperator of my caliber – are sufficient [for you], well, they will be sufficient for me, too.

My wife isn’t associated with my request for clarification, and the fact is that, concerning your behavior toward her, one has a hard time seeing what you might say that would be honorable or sensible. I am no longer interested in seeing you or reading [anything from] you.

Best to you,
Jean-Patrick Manchette

Champ Libre to Jean-Patrick Manchette
Paris, 10 February 1977
Mr. Manchette:

I have indeed not had the time to meet with you: it is by writing that I must respond to your letter.

Jean-Claude Zylberstein committed a deplorable blunder by asking your wife to translate a text from the English. This blunder was worsened when he made the same request of you.

When I learned of them, I informed Jean-Claude Zylberstein that I wanted no contact with you, even through an interposed spouse, for a subordinate work in a collection as marginal as “Chute Libre” (I haven’t forgotten that, in a different era,[1] you came up with this title).

Thus I have prohibited the publication of these works, and I asked Jean-Claude Zylberstein to cease all contact with you.

Keeping in mind what Champ Libre is today, and the general line of orientation that I defined, especially by the dismissal in November 1974 of the salaried incompetents,[2] opportunists who have since then realized their program at [Editions] Sagittare, my decision is so clear, simple and logical that it can only present problems to those who have decided not to understand it because they identify themselves with the party of the lie and falsification: you are among them.

You order me to furnish you with explanations concerning my position with respect to you and your wife, but you assured me, several days earlier, of your “cordiality that is a little distrustful at the moment (12/1/77) but not feigned.” Recognizing my power, you seem to seek from me some patronage to support your uncertain career in film, but you doubt what I could say “that would be honorable and sensible” concerning the decision I’ve taken concerning your wife. To strike at you, that’s OK, but at your wife? That’s too much. What crimes has she committed, to justify such intransigence? And then, without anyone asking you to do anything (especially not her, you clearly state), you make yourself a delegate tasked with finding the reason for such inexplicable arbitrariness.

Nevertheless, you must know that your letter and the formulation of your demands contain the answers to the questions you pose. But this isn’t sufficient for you, so I will be more precise and satisfy you: your wife knows you better than anyone else, since she lives with you; she accepts and/or endures you – this, without saying anything more about her, amply justifies my decision.

When one is what you are,[3] when one knows it, when one confesses it, not in confidence among friends, but when one writes so that the public hears about you and appreciates you – hoping, no doubt, to obtain through these confessions some attenuating circumstance to the judgment of History – there is a Dadaist incongruity (in the sense of [Idi] Amin Dada) in your daring to speak of honorability and reason.

Mr. Manchette, you who passed your “youth writing crime novels or [writing] for Les Nouvelles Littéraires (among others),” you are indeed of your “time,” and also “of your space,” but from the wrong [mauvais] side.

All “these things,” you say, will not be “automatically pardoned” by you, and I say that worse than what you do are your rigged and shameful confessions that, starting today, also merit a judgment that can’t be appealed: nothing coming from you or yours will ever be published by Champ Libre. To reassure you, the current prohibition will not apply to your descendants, on the condition that they have denounced what you already are and what you will not fail to become.

Gérard Lebovici

[1] Circa 1973.

[2] Gérard Guégan, et. al.

[3] A recuperator of situationist theory.

Jean-Patrick Manchette to Champ Libre
15 February 1977
My poor Lebovici,

What to say to you? The letter you sent me has almost entirely ended the irritation that you caused me. You are not what you pretend to be, and you aren’t even what I think [you are]. It is visible and you see it, from whence comes your pitiful over-excitation. Thus I will not take the time to correct you on this point. When you suggest that I seek your patronage to support my career, taking as your pretext a dedication that calls you “powerful” (the unadulterated seriousness of which cannot escape anyone) – you’re losing your memory, my dear Lebovici. You offered me your patronage, and I told you no.Goodbye and be well, I do not wish you any harm.

Jean-Patrick Manchette

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

To Contact NOT BORED!