from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
12 September 1990
Dear Paolo:

I just received your two letters and the Italian books. I thank you for them. I am currently in Champot. But one can write me here any time. The mail always follows me instantaneously, wherever I am, and this is also the surest address, relatively.

I can now respond to you, but quite briefly, to give you some general news, some of which is sad.

Floriana [Lebovici] died at the end of February [1990]. Sometime afterwards, and even beforehand, while she was in agony, young Nicolas -- a failed musician and authentic lunatic, who was devoured by a universal pretension and envy -- believed that he could become a publisher since he was the son of Gerard; and he wanted to begin his career with a stroke of brilliance, so as to indicate that he had arrived: he would prevent the publication of Dumontier's book,[1] for which the contract had already been signed by Nicolas' mother (in response to [a request by] the publishing house, I guaranteed the truthfulness of all that concerned the facts and quotations, as one knows). This inconceivable censorship was not, I believe, motivated by a hostility to May 68, but quite simply to me (Nicolas must also be jealous of the professional historian from Nanterre, because they are almost the same age). One can truly say that, ever since the days of [Gerard] Guegan, this poor publishing house has seen its management evolve via putsch, assassination, [and] pronunciamiento![2] One would think one was in Bolivia. Thus I have reacted accordingly, and I have had to encourage an immediate redemption of the publishing house's debts by someone else.[3] The malicious lunatic was encouraged to commit his dangerous folly by his brother Lorenzo and the perfidious Anita Blanc, who thought she had something to gain in the success of this operation. Thus I crossed them all out at the very moment that learned of all this. There is no longer any kind of surety on the terrain of publishing at the moment that there no longer is any in the rest of the world.

In this context, I must say that the SugarCo edition[4] isn't exactly a pirate, because Floriana accepted it in principle. But I find that it isn't far from being a pirate edition at bottom, since SugarCo never even sent me a copy and, without you, I would only have known about the publication of this book through the Italian press. What to do about it? I have had great difficulties with a publisher in Barcelona,[5] who was contractually obliged to submit the translation to me, but I found so many errors in three pages that I refused to read any more; and I doubt -- the translator being such a cunt -- that the translation that they pretended to have re-made was better. The worst was in New York, where rich gangsters (Zone) claimed they were going to re-publish the Society [of the Spectacle], against my will, saying that the book is in the public domain, due to the sole fact that I have left alone pirate editions [of the book] for twenty years. We have finally succeeded in making them afraid to do so, I believe.[6] Fortunately, a translation of the Comments into English that I believe is very good[7] will be published. But it now appears to me more important to reach [readers in] Russia and even China.[8]

Your narrative of a Parisian evening is very droll and instructive. Everything confirms that G,[9] officially resigned, is part of the secret nucleus that directs the entire enterprise (their "Three International Brothers,"[10] in sum . . .).

Your project[11] Qouosque tandem[12] appears to be very good and very useful. But it could also lead to great disadvantages. Everything depends on the execution. We must speak about it. The first condition is that recent relations between us are not evident. If you make a brief sojourn in the town in which we met, previously and recently, tell me in advance which dates, and I will give you two or two rendez-vous of truly conspiratorial style. You have seen that this isn't too difficult.

I want to tell you that, in the framework of such a project, or for all other circumstances that might crop up, Panegyric, volume I is the definitive text, in which everything is true and in which resides the complete explanation of all that I have done. But at the same time, it is a text that is crammed with traps and superimposed meanings. (If Comments was made to paralyze a computer, then Panegyric is made to partially escape [the notice of] good political minds, counting on their rarity, and also [according to] diverse principles of the derive, which modern art introduced into the deployment of texts.)

I communicate to you a confidential note[13] that is intended to discourage potential translators. Not that I wish to incite you to translate the work,[14] but to indicate to you a part of the interesting difficulty of the document. Besides, you have several other facts on Catilina[15] that other translators have no need of.

I hope that Genevieve's health no longer worries you. Addressing to you all my regards and those of Alice,


[1] Translator's note: Pascal Dumontier, The Situationists and May 68, Editions Gerard Lebovici, 1990.

[2] Translator's note: the putsch came in 1974 (see letter dated 10 December 1974); the assassination in 1984 (see letter dated 29 April 1984); and the pronunciamiento in 1990 (see letter dated 6 March 1990).

[3] Translator's note: Gerard Voitey.

[4] Translator's note: translation of Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle into Italian.

[5] Translator's note: Editions Anagrama.

[6] Translator's note: Zone Books was once again unafraid in March 1994, when they finally published Donald Nicholson-Smith's translation of The Society of the Spectacle.

[7] Translator's note: no, it was terrible and had to be re-done from scratch by others.

[8] Things that were accomplished in 2000 and 2003, respectively.

[9] Jean-Pierre Gomez, who figured among the editorial committee of the Encyclopedia of Nuisances until 1988.

[10] Translator's note: a derisory joke: Bakunin's plan called for one hundred "international brothers."

[11] A pamphlet against the "emotional plague" (see letter dated 29 January 1990).

[12] Translator's note: "Quousque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?" is a Latin phrase from Marcus Tullius Cicero's speech against Lucius Sergius Catilina, a conspirator against the Roman Republic circa 63 B.C.E. "How long will you abuse our patience, Catilina?"

[13] Written in the margin: "The copy here has passed through the claw-critique of the cat." (Id est the "Summary Note" concerning the difficulty of translating Panegyric.)

[14] Translator's note: in the past, Salvadori -- a former member of the Italian section of the Situationist International -- had translated Debord's The Society of the Spectacle and his Preface to the 4th Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle" into Italian.

[15] Translator's note: that is to say, on matters concerning conspiracy to overthrow the Italian government.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! January 2009. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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