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.

Related Articles

Journey to the End of the Night

Fiction by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Translated by Ralph Manheim

With a contribution by William Vollmann

Céline’s masterpiece—colloquial, polemic, hyper realistic—boils over with bitter humor and revulsion at society’s idiocy and hypocrisy: Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of cruelty and violence that hurtles through the improbable travels of the petit bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu: from the trenches of WWI, to the African jungle, to New York, to the Ford Factory in Detroit, and finally to life in Paris as a failed doctor.…
More Information

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.…
More Information

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.…
More Information
The most blackly humorous and disenchanted voice in all of French literature.
London Review of Books
My favorite French classic has to be Journey to the End of the Night. It’s an epic that takes you all around the world, but the center of the world is Paris, or Céline’s delirious, slightly hallucinatory, incredibly poetic vision of it.
—Andrew Hussey, The Guardian
An extraordinarily gifted writer, he writes like a lunging live wire, crackling and wayward, full of hidden danger.
—Alfred Kazin
Teeming with disease, misanthropy, and dark comedy.
The New Yorker
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 is my Proust!
—Philip Roth
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
< Marvin Cohen Lars Gustafsson >