Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894–1961) was a French author best known for his works Journey to the End of the Night and Death on the Installment Plan. After returning from war with a partially paralyzed right arm, Celine worked with the passport office of the French Consulate in London, later moved to Africa to work for a French lumber company, moved back to France, lectured about tuberculosis for the Rockefeller Foundation, and earned a medical degree from the University of Rennes. It was while he worked as a doctor that he turned to writing. He had a successful, albeit controversial, career as a writer until he suffered a stroke in 1961 and passed away.

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Guignol’s Band

In Guignol’s Band, first published in France in 1943, Céline explores the horror of a disordered world. The hero, the semi-autobiographical Ferdinand, moves through the nightmare of London’s underworld during the years of World War I. In this distressing setting, he meets pimps and prostitutes, pawnbrokers and magicians, policemen and arsonists. He sees social and physiological decomposition as these processes unfold along parallel lines of development. The illusions of existence are nakedly exposed.…
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Death On The Installment Plan

Fiction by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Translated from the French by Ralph Manheim

Death on the Installment Plan is a companion volume to Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s earlier novel, Journey to the End of the Night. Published in rapid succession in the middle 1930s, these two books shocked European literature and world consciousness. Nominally fiction but more rightly called “creative confessions,” they told of the author’s childhood in excoriating Paris slums, of service in the mud wastes of World War I and African jungles. Mixing unmitigated despair with Gargantuan comedy, they also created a new style, in which invective and obscenity were laced with phrases of unforgettable poetry.…
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An extraordinarily gifted writer, he writes like a lunging live wire, crackling and wayward, full of hidden danger.

—Alfred Kazin

It could be said that without Céline there would have been no Henry Miller, no Jack Kerouac, no Charles Bukowski, no Beat poets.

—John Banville

Terrifying: enormously powerful and slashing, satiric, misanthropic—but what power of the imagination!

—James Laughlin

Céline was a great writer not because he was a stylist alone but because he was able to bring together sensation, thought and expression in a way that drove his readers to the edge of consciousness.

The Nation
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