from Guy Debord

To Floriana Lebovici
8 September 1987
Dear Floriana:

I have hardly any news to give you, and it is practically what one might expect. I have pursued my work: I have come to the editing,[1] and there is still a vast task that lies before me. I have ascertained, without much surprise, to be truthful, that there is no way to finish promptly enough to publish this book in November [1987]. I must say that no one, except for me, knows the date of the first Spectacle[2] and that a twentieth anniversary would have very little meaning.

By contrast, the twentieth anniversary of [May] 1968, which will no doubt bring the publication of several new stupidities, would not be too badly chosen for the moment that I again start the non-discussion of the insignificant concept of spectacle.

I have closely reviewed the first books of the translation of Clausewitz, which were only completed by X[3] and which are also the most difficult. I have measured the extreme weakness of Naville's translation,[4] which is always ugly and very often wrong; Gerard [Lebovici] was right to infinitely prefer [the translation by] de Vatry; and, finally, X has known how to improve de Vatry, by relying on the German text to complete what this translation lacks, and sometimes to correct it, always for the better, in a spirit of faithfulness to the original, and to dialectical theory. It is truly excellent.

I have only found a dozen observations to communicate to him. To give you an idea of the extent, rather minimal, of the corrections, I can cite for you one of the most important: in the preface by Marie de Bruehl, where she evokes Gneisenau,[5] I claim that it is not necessary to say "his superior," which evokes very subaltern grades, but to translate the German as "the commander," as one still says in France when it is a question of the highest ranks of the army. This book must be the only authority in French, for a very long time, and so strategy can come into fashion: because, if this one is available, the competing translations will be devalued in an instant.

I will return to Paris during the month of October. Thus, I will see you soon. I embrace you.


[1] Of Comments on the Society of the Spectacle. [Translator's note: this book would eventually be published by Editions Gerard Lebovici in April 1988.]

[2] Translator's note: published on 14 November 1967, Debord's The Society of the Spectacle was mostly written between 1963 and 1965. See letter dated 8 March 1965.

[3] Translator's note: this would appear to be Jean-Pierre Baudet, who -- in protest against the fact that Editions Fayard/Alice Debord did not include in Correspondance any of the letters addressed to Guy Debord, thereby "presenting the interlocutors of Mr Debord as reduced to mutism, and incapable of having inspired, nourished or contradicted what he expressed in his own letters" -- demanded on 5 April 2006 that Editions Fayard/Alice Debord not include any of the letters that Debord addressed to him between 1985 and 1989. Not only did they comply, but they also replaced any reference to "Jean-Pierre Baudet" with the letter X.

[4] Translator's note: of Clausewitz's On War.

[5] Count August Neidhardt von Gneisenau (1760-1831), Prussian Marshal who, after the peace at Tilsit, contributed to the reorganization of the Prussian Army.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 6: Janvier 1979-Decembre 1987 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2006. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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