from Guy Debord

To Donald Nicholson-Smith
27 April 1978
Dear Donald:

Like you, I think that professional publishers are generally preferable to the "pirates," even the most sympathetic ones, for their distribution, which surpasses the limits of a too-closed milieu and also because they quite often allow the author a chance to verify if the translation is correct. For example, I have never allowed myself to recognize the existence of the truly savage edition of [The Society of the] Spectacle that has been distributed for several years in Germany,[1] because the translation is completely false. Thus, it would be a very good thing to publish your translation of the book[2] through an English or American publisher. I would prefer an English one, if there is a choice, but see what is possible. I do not know the new edition from Detroit[3] and would be happy to look it over: the weaknesses of the preceding edition were so obvious that I perceived several of them.[4]

[Gerard] Lebovici only publishes books in English (several of which might be suitable for foreign publishers, if they are well-informed). Inversely, I think that Lebovici himself would be interested in the publication of several books (recent or possibly older) that have been translated into English and suggested by you. To cite only one example, the book by Bolloten,[5] of which you spoke to me almost 13 years ago, was only recently published in French by [Editions] Ruedo iberico.

Lebovici's intention concerning your collaboration -- which I hope will be long-lasting -- is to ask you for the translation of the text of another film that I will soon complete. It is called In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni,[6] but the title will remain in Latin. The length of this film is the same as that of the film you are translating now. I can indicate on the manuscript the origin of certain detournements, or a few other potential difficulties (Lebovici also has a copy of the Spectacle in which the detourned phrases are marked;[7] but these will certainly be familiar to you).

The mail comes to me more quickly at the address above, where I stay more often than in Paris. Paris has changed a great deal and not for the better.

Quite cordially,

[1] Mimeographed publication by Projektgruppe Gegengesellschaft of Dusseldorf, 1971. [Translator's note: in English, the name of this publisher was "the Anti-Society Group Project."]

[2] Translator's note: Nicholson-Smith's translation of Debord's The Society of the Spectacle was published by Zone Books in 1994.

[3] Black & Red (1977), which corrected the version of 1970. [Translator's note: the 1977 version was translated by Fredy Perlman.]

[4] Translator's note: Debord was not fluent in English.

[5] The Great Camouflage by Burnett Bolloten (1961), published in 1977 by Ruedo iberico under the title The Spanish Revolution, the Left and the Struggle for Power.

[6] Translator's note: As a testament to Debord's feelings for Nicholson-Smith, this film contains a picture of him, as well as pictures of other ex-situationists dear to the filmmaker: Asger Jorn, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio and Attila Kotanyi.

[7] Translator's note: see our translation of the Guide to the detournements in The Society of the Spectacle.

(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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