from Guy Debord

To Gerard Lebovici
2 January 1976
Dear Gerard:

Here is a year that begins actively! But I am not too sure that this is well-organized activity.

The book[1] has fortunately taken on a very good appearance, since the titles, epigraphs and footnotes have been properly restored. We are practically back to where we had been with the first proofs. Such a large number of corrections cannot be transmitted by telephone. Hard work, and there might still be mistakes. But since strategic considerations obligate us this time to sacrifice everything to urgency, we move on. I note her a minimum of my observations.

Of course, it is contrary to the rational principles of work at a printing press to execute parallel corrections of a manuscript. This would involve nothing less than a loss of energy and time in superfluous and artificial work, if the "professional" proofreader had allied a sure eye with a rigorous respect for the text of the manuscript (that is to say, for all that was not an obvious typographical error); I contest that this was the case here. And, moreover, the disorder of such practices, when introduced forcefully, have pushed this to a kind of perfection.

All this was presented in the strangest and most sorrowful conditions. On the one hand, diverse people, employed as much by Champ Libre as by the printer, introduced "a bischero sciolto,"[2] as Censor says, an indeterminate number of directions that are manifestly ill-suited and impertinent modifications -- thus rendering longer and more difficult an effort to which I have had the good will to devote myself and, moreover, based upon an original manuscript in which I claim that the subsisting typographical errors were as rare as in the four or five cleanest manuscripts that Champ Libre has ever dealt with. On the other hand, the casual manner in which one communicated this work to me added to and supported the offhandedness of the content of the interventions. The first offhandedness covered over the second one, by suppressing its documentation. In effect:

1) With the first proofs, my manuscript was not return to me, as is the custom because it is useful to do so. In this, the discomfort was in itself minimal, but it was aggravated by the fact that there were many more small modifications that one normally expects.

2) With the second proofs, the first round of proofs that I had already corrected was not returned to me. This is unprecedented. It was expected that I would attentively re-read the whole book without the proofs that would have guided me towards the only mistakes -- already quite numerous -- that remained to be corrected and, furthermore, without making use of the manuscript.

Thus, I have verified almost all of the titles, epigraphs and notes that I had to recompose -- that is to say, I verified the ensemble of the corrections that were already done once, under the responsibility of the one who looked at the first proofs. Nevertheless, I still had to correct many mistakes that leaped to my eyes by perusing the book as a whole, though constrained to a quick read-through. And the famous proofreader, who had seen these second proofs before I did, added erroneous corrections to them.

Nevertheless, I must suppose that this proofreader, acting upon these last corrections, had made use of the first round of corrected proofs (if not, he would be a madman). But in the name of what did he permit himself -- after having worked under normal conditions -- to transmit to me the derision of a book to be re-corrected without giving me the means to do so? If this proofreader is so sure of himself that he considers my intervention to be superfluous -- which, alas! it was not, even in these conditions -- why have me waste my time? Is he some kind of Gueganist agent hidden in the ruins of the collapse of 1974,[3] and was he deliberate goal making me disgusted with Champ Libre? One must wonder. Or perhaps he was simply someone who, so as to show his utility and to justify his salary, went as far as sabotage, by keeping the proofs to himself, so that his negligent work remained nec plus ultra?[4] I believe that this is what has happened, in such conditions, with the majority of the authors [published by Champ Libre].

The corrections that you reported to me on three attached sheets are obviously just or, where four or five are concerned, at least quite acceptable. But many of those that were marked on the last proofs are inexcusable errors. Obviously I suppressed them.

For example, on page 152, I saw corrected at Italian mark that indicates the tonic accent of the verse, which is in the original. One page 43, page 72 and even in the last phrase of The Veritable Report, on page 163, the commas were coldly suppressed. If one informed me that this was done by the haughty proofreader and that he is universally recognized as one of the masters of French prose, I would respond that he should deploy his talents and handle his commas in his own works, and should not attempt such forceful measures of this type in the text of my translation. Censor was not wrong to say that with the current decadence of all professional qualifications, each becomes incapable of remaining in his role. Though I await the end of the division of labor, I do not accept the imperialist invasions of specialists who no longer even know how to keep to their own role. No more than I would, while at a restaurant, accept that a waiter would counsel me about the dishes on the menu, as is the current fashion, I do not believe that a proofreader can inform me about how I must rhyme and punctuate a phrase.

I also saw with uneasiness -- page 156 -- that for some reason he had repeated "states" (of the Ancien Regime, with the small e [etats]), which perhaps was confused with the States [Etats] represented at the U.N.?

This pretension is manifested elsewhere and I believe from the beginning. I translated the title of Chapter III as "In which the social war begins again, and how nothing is more fatal than in believing it won." The "in" disappeared from the first proofs. I restored it, not finding in its absence the similar elegance in a phrase that adopted the tone of Machiavelli. In the second proofs, this title was corrected, but, in the table of contents, which I had not seen, and which nevertheless already contained two corrections when it came to me, I found -- along with five other uncorrected mistakes -- the same phrase, amputated of the preposition. Thus it seems to me that premeditation is indicated.

Finally, let us finish this business as soon as possible, and I hope that we can do better in the future.

See you Monday. Best wishes,

[1] The Veritable Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism in Italy, followed by Proofs of the Inexistence of Censor by his Author (Gianfranco Sanguinetti), of which the translation [from the Italian into French] by Guy Debord would be published by Champ Libre in January 1976, followed by a second printing in March.

[2] Without reflection and casually.

[3] See the letter to the Nantese dated 9 December 1974 and the letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti dated 10 December 1974.

[4] Translator's note: Latin for "nothing further beyond."

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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