from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
5 December 1978
Dear Paolo:

I see that the battle of publishing houses in Italy reaches its supreme degree of complication. It will be necessary for us to begin to decide, because for the moment we are not assured of anything favorable, although we are quite well informed of the unfortunate character of nearly all the publishers. We obviously must consider the situation as a whole. And the problem is more serious and important than it would be in England, due to the current recuperative offensive known as "situationism," which reaches a high degree in Italy, and due to the interest of this particular country, in which the social crisis is so advanced (the two phenomena are related).

It seems to me that the order of importance and urgency is the following:

1) We must prevent Nizza[1] from publishing [an anthology of] Internationale Situationniste; the simple publication of an anthology of these texts by another suitable publisher would be a decisive operation, if [the contract for] it is signed and announced in a very short period of time. On the other hand, we will have to discourage Nizza by several threats and scandals that are in proportion to his resistance.

2) We must get Spectacle published soon (with my preface,[2] which will guarantee its translation but will involve other horrors). If the poor director of Vallechi is finally authorized to sign the contracts, we will know it very soon. Perhaps you can already settle the matter in Bologna? If an accord is possible there, Champ Libre could write to Vallechi that his response came too late.

3) A translation of [Complete] Cinematographic Works is much less important and urgent, except if Arcana has the great audacity to publish a pirate edition. Nevertheless, one can suspect that they know that others are considering such a project and, though it seems difficult for others to be worse than they are (except Nizza-La Pietra), there is hardly any reason to believe that they would be any better.

4) And, last, The Veritable Split: I would like it if this was published soon, but it is much less urgent, because I think that the pirates must detest this book.[3] You can add it, when the time comes, as a project for the publisher that will be capable of pleasing us and, at the same time, will actually publish something!

I have made this ordering because I imagine that the Bolognese, who already hesitate due to the size of the anthology, will be scared off if you propose to them a block of four books. But see what they can do, by making it clear that there are other publishers who want these books, but that it is we who do not want them.

As for Arcana, tell them again: if they do not respond quite favorably to your letter of 24 November, the matter ends there. If they respond with a sufficient modesty, you can bring to them a new blow by writing to them another letter, the center of which would be this: "There is still a preliminary matter. Having seen the list of books published so far by Arcana, and finding them all repugnant or ridiculous, Debord is surprised that you have asked to publish the Italian translation of his most recent book, even before its publication [in France], and thus without you having read it. There must be some misunderstanding and perhaps you cannot tell the difference. If this is indeed the case, then the book is obviously not for you. And if you can tell the difference, you must also know that it is necessary for you to explain to us, after such a change in the ideas or personnel, how Arcana now proposes to profoundly modify its wretched public image. It will only be in case you are in a position to provide a satisfactory explanation that you can arrive at an agreement with Champ Libre."

I believe it is improbably that these cretins will accept such humiliation. If they do, we can be quite sure that they will meet all of our other conditions. (Keep all of the documents for "volume 2" of Correspondence.[4])

As for Nizza, we will want to see his response. Immediately afterwards, you can send to a translator a photocopy of the letter from Champ Libre, accompanied by an insulting letter that draws his attention to the personal risks that he already runs, due to the simple fact that public rumor accuses him personally of being the translator.[5] And then, some time later, it would be good to run into him "by accident," so as to reiterate this advice in a more convincing manner.

The most extraordinary letter from [Aldo] Moro seems to demonstrate that he knew in whose hands he was held: what else is to be made of the demand to be brought from an unofficial special prison of the State to an official special prison of the State? What man of State in the hands of enemies of the State would ever make such a Dadaist proposition? The fact that so many letter from Moro continue to come out confirms: a) that one has completely hidden them from the population; and b) that a very bitter struggle continues between hostile forces, who have many subjects for more terrible and hidden confrontations than a polemic on the "firmness" or "humanity" of the people in power at the moment at which they judged, as if they were a single person, that Moro's hide was not worth the least concession.

I hope your writing advances quickly, because the post festum information about this affair will transform existing illusions little by little.

I also hope to see you again in the spring. This time, it will be necessary to anticipate a stay of two or three weeks (without including Arles).

Best wishes,

[1] Enzo Nizza, director of Editions La Pietra.

[2] Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle," drafted in January 1979, published in April 1979 by Editions Champ Libre and published in an Italian translation by Paolo Salvadori in May 1979 by Editions Vallechi.

[3] Translator's note: no doubt because The Veritable Split in the International: A Public Circular of the Situationist International (Champ Libre, 1972) contains forceful denunciations of certain ex-situationists and the entire "pro-situ" milieu.

[4] Translator's note: Volume II of the Correspondence of Editions Champ Libre was published in November 1981.

[5] Gianni-Emilio Simonetti (cf. letter by Paolo Salvadori dated 5 February 1979 in Editions Champ Libre Correspondence, Volume II, starting on page 18).

(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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