Merlin Thomas

20th century French scholar

Merlin Thomas

Merlin Thomas (1920–1996) held a fellowship at New College, Oxford, where he taught French literature and language. Among his publications were two school editions of modern French plays, A Festschrift for W.G. Moore, Moliere: stage and study, edited by him and William Howarth in 1973, on the occasion of the Moliere tercentenary; Louis-Ferdinand Celine in 1979; and, with Raymond Escoffey, the Penguin French Dictionary in 1985.

cover image of the book Louis-Ferdinand Céline (biography)

Louis-Ferdinand Céline (biography)

Nearly a half-century after his death, Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961) remains tremendously respected for the innovative artistry of his fiction yet despised for his supposed collaborationist activities during the Second World War. Merlin Thomas’s critical biography of the late French novelist seeks neither to apologize nor to defend but rather to understand the complex life and writings of the great French writer. Included are extensive passages from Céline’s work with Thomas’s own translations, a special chapter devoted to a discussion of Céline’s use of language, and a brief biographical sketch with a discussion of the relationship between the subject’s life and fictional works. “All sorts of labels have been attached to Céline,” Thomas remarks. “What he was in the broadest sense, was a poet. He was also a witness of our century.”

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