from Guy Debord

To Annie Le Brun
28 February 1990
Dear Annie Le Brun:

For reasons that I have revealed quite frankly in the third chapter of the first volume of my panegyric, the traces of my handwriting -- which isn't exactly legible -- have become even worse with time. Nevertheless, always using the machine[1] doesn't appear suitable to our correspondence. Thus I once undertook a certain effort towards transparency on this terrain.[2] "It is done," as Lautreamont says. Moreover, I can assure you that I do not know how to type on a machine anymore, but fortunately someone has the ability to decipher me.[3]

Thanks are long due for the books on Sade. I immediately read the shortest one,[4] and Bloc d'abime[5] soon afterwards. Your Sade is the true one, I am sure of it. I must also confess that I am hardly a scholarly Sadian. Of all the specialists that you mention, I believe I have only read Heine and Lely,[6] the first being much more likable to me than the second (and it has been such a long time that I would not even be able to say why). And, nevertheless, Apollinaire.[7] But what Andre Breton said was sufficient to pull me in. Then I vaguely knew, thanks to public rumor, that Sade was too "Nazi" for the Stalinists and too "great lord" for the Socialists, but I never read what they wrote. Thus I easily believe that you are right to send back so many other experts to Literature, or even to the alcove of God's yelpers.

It is only in your books that I have learned several important things that I previously did not know. I have been delighted to learn, so late, that the 120 Days was in fact a completed manuscript. I have always felt the "artistic" perfection of the form [of the book] that we know, but I would have believed, naturally, that it was only due to a historical accident that was fortunate in the final analysis. The parallel that you draw with Machiavelli pleased me greatly. And perhaps even more [pleased] with what you say about the effects of this complete re-reading in Paris and New York. One won't forget these beautiful birds of prey.

I also want to thank you -- and this dates from a little further back -- for introducing me to Abu l-Ala al-Ma'arri.[8] What is marvelous to me is not so much that an Arabic lyric such as this one could have been written in the 11th century: it is that it has found someone at the end of the 20th century to find such a beautiful equivalent for it in French. I still believe that there is hardly any difference between our judgments of poetry.

Very amicably,

[1] Translator's note: the typewriter.

[2] See letter dated 4 October 1989.

[3] Translator's note: Alice Becker-Ho, who typed up and kept carbon-copies of Guy's handwritten letters.

[4] Le Chateaux de la subversion. [Translator: published in 1982 by Jean-Jacques Pauvert.]

[5] Soudain un bloc d'abime, Sade. [Translator: published in 1986 by Jean-Jacques Pauvert.]

[6] Maurice Heine, Le Marquis de Sade and Gilbert Lely, Vie du marquis de Sade.

[7] L'oeuvre du marquis de Sade. Essai bibliographique.

[8] Rets d'eternite, translated from the Arabic by Adonis and Anne Wade Minkowski.

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

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