from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti[1]
[9 April 1974]
My Cousin:

I have never doubted your affection, and I see quite clearly from your letter, whose nobility of tone and gracious stylistic ornaments touch me more than I can say, that you would still like me to be a situation that marks that affection in such a manner that I can witness in you all of my satisfaction.

The sudden death of the Mazarin[2] has caused much joy among some and much fright among others. The strange man has died the way he lived: in bold treachery. For the one who always lied about everything to everyone, it is an apotheosis to have lied about his own death, and I wonder if he did not, for a moment, caress the intent to lie in the beyond by having the impudence to make us believe that he was still alive. The plain wretch Marcellin[3] preceded him into nothingness a few days previously: just punishment for being advised to displease the people of quality.

The scoundrel of Cantal[4] was not even cold when Mr Chaban[5] took by surprise good-natured Edgar,[6] then occupied with his charge as First President, by haranguing the Gentlemen of Parliament; and he declared himself an hour before Edgar that he, Mr Chaban, was to be the minister, but the other was dead-set in his pretense and ten other rascals put themselves in the ranks, each swearing that he would be the most apt to order and hold the budget of the State, to win over the votes of the riffraff and even to innovate in the collection of taxes, which, as you know, is the principal art in this country, when we are not building barricades.

The aforesaid country, which is prey to all the troubles and many shortages, was already no longer governed in the last days of the Mazarin. The last extremity of malaise, if well understood, was not in the [body of this] rogue, but everywhere in the State, and in the towns as well as in the countrysides. Thus did Lord Chesterfield[7] write very sensibly: "Finally, all the symptoms that I have encountered in history, previous to changes and revolutions in government, exist today and develop each day in France."

The other day I received at dinner the Marquis of Caracas and the Baron of Bergamo,[8] quite reconciled after the famous duel that caused such a commotion in the Royal Palace four years ago.[9] Caracas, who joins his quick military spirit (in both planning and execution) the most lively delicacy and the most exquisite taste, was ravished by his sojourn at your Palace, the festivities and the unusual women whom he found and gave themselves to him there, as much by the civilization and politeness of your town. He also says that you are the man of the world whom he loves the most.

All this recalls to me the delights of Tuscany. It is true that it is among the population there that one can find, in different epochs, the most just sense for art and banking. And certainly the present must show that in this

l'antico valore
Nelli fiorentini cor non e ancor morto.[10]

I am grateful to you for the clever stratagems that are meditating upon so as to deliver Mademoiselle de Chevreuse[11] from the retreat where I would be desolate to leave her languishing. No doubt it would be wise to wait for my arrival in Florence. This is an affair in which it is necessary to know how to promptly bring about its conclusion. You know, moreover, that I especially count upon, to lead my arrangement to its conclusion, the aid of Madame de Shanghai,[12] who, in such encounters, is without [fear of] contradiction, the most seductive person who has appeared in her century.

We thus expect the visit of the Princess de Borowski.[13] In the portrait of her that you have sent to me care of the Marquis of Caracas, in which I already see her complexion of lilies and roses, the fire of her eyes, the beauty of her arms, the grace of her legs, the perfection of her breasts, I am assured that you have undertaken to follow the advice that I gave you in my next to last letter, because one sees her worthy of figuring among the most beautiful people of the Court.

I salute you, My Cousin, and desire that History itself maintains you in its impassable keep.


[1] At the top: "To the Grand-Duke of Tuscany." [Translator's note: that is to say, Cosimo de' Medici (1519-1574).]

[2] Georges Pompidou, stricken with a serious illness since 1972.

[3] Raymond Marcellin, Minister of the Interior since 1968, was named Minister of Agriculture in 1974.

[4] Translator's note: Pompidou, again: he was born in Montboudif, in the village of Cantal.

[5] Jacques Chaban-Delmas.

[6] Edgar Faure, President of the National Assembly.

[7] Secretary of State and man of English letters, friend of Voltaire and Montesquieu.

[8] Eduardo Rothe and Paolo Salvadori, respectively.

[9] See letter dated 11 March 1970.

[10] Detourned verse from Petrarch: "Ancient valor is still not dead in the heart of the Florentines."

[11] Mistress of Cardinal Retz, here meaning Celeste.

[12] Alice Debord.

[13] An adventurer who ran aground, surnamed Slava, then Slavia.

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

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