The war inside Celine’s head

In France, it is the literary event of the spring, if not of the year: the publication war By Louis-Ferdinand Céline The first to be published unpublished series of manuscripts found of the writer – 5,324 pages have been missing since 1944. Galimard’s first edition of 80,000 copies heralded the significance of this unexpected discovery. We are now in the fourth edition war It is on top of sales.

Posted at 7:15 AM

Louis-Ferdinand Destoches, better known as Céline, the literary genius to some, a hateful anti-Semitic pamphlet to others – it’s these two things to the commentators – is back on the front page of the news, as if speaking to us from outside the world. The grave so as not to say from his inferno.

The story of these manuscripts, the disappearance of which Celine denounced until her death in 1961, is worthy of a novel in itself. It will begin with the liberation of Paris, when the writer and his wife Lucette Destuches, feeling the hot water, hastily left their apartment in Montmartre with the cat Pipert, to join the Petén team. And so left in the closet are thousands of handwritten papers, fastened with clothespins, that will mysteriously disappear, before rising to the surface only last year.

Photo by Christophe Archambault, AFP archive

war by Louis Ferdinand Celine

It was in the hands of Jean-Pierre Thibodat, a former critic of the newspaper Release, who then contact the rights holders without disclosing their source, and will respond with legal means. Why all this long silence? The manuscript’s owner apparently did not want Lucette, Celine’s widow who died in 2019 (aged 107), to receive the slightest penny from publishing these unpublished works. The manuscripts finally returned to the heirs of Lucette Destouches, Véronique Chovin and François Gibault who signed the preface warwhere he recalls that as early as 1934, in a letter to her publisher Robert Denwell, Celine wanted to publish three books after death by religion : childhoodAnd the war And the London.

It’s that war, which were deciphered by the great specialist Pascal Foucher, and which we have in our hands. Gallimard will be published London In the fall a tale will follow, King Krugol’s will, As well as the full version of the novel pipe cutters.

These recovered manuscripts are in fact a goldmine.

Lapress photo archive

Louis Ferdinand Celine

Journey to the end of Celine

You never come back from reading Journey to the edge of the night Written by Celine, considered a masterpiece of twentieth century literaturee century. I read it at a very young age, knowing nothing about the man and his life, but I remember exactly where I was, the weather and how I felt when I finished with it. I have never read such a cruel accusation against war, nationalism, colonialism, and, more generally, the nonsense and cruelty of men. All this is accompanied by ordinary misogyny. Hate is, in my opinion, in singular language, raw and vulgar, like war, but not without these poetic flashes that make you wish not to abandon the unbearable Ferdinand Bardamo.

for some specialistswarwhich was to be written in the first draft around 1934, would be the missing link between Journey to the edge of the night And the death by religion. No doubt the author would have corrected it before publication, as it is shorter than these two famous titles, and does not contain the three small points characteristic of its style. There she found Selene’s violence, intact, still modern, fueled by the First World War, the incredible massacre and shock of those who lived it–the survivors weren’t called “broken faces” for nothing. And not only were their faces smashed, their souls went there as well.

with warCéline responds to a devastating experience with the only means of writing, in a kind of brutality where one feels intense literary euphoria, fierce and aggressive.

As a reader, I’ve changed over the past 25 years. Hundreds of readings separate me from my first impressive encounter with Dr. Destuches. It is aggressive. He wants the whole world. He will always look for a scapegoat, especially among Jews.

It is already there, in style and writing, before the brochures, this violence. In this language he created out of slang and popular outrage – fortunately, the novel was accompanied by a very didactic dictionary, where we delve into the swear words. “Wherever I was, I would, to die, play more music for me, more lively, we read in war. The hardest thing about all this disgust was that I didn’t like the music of my father’s phrases. Dead, I would have guessed to vomit on him in a sentence. We don’t get each other back. Pushing your squeak again can be done, all that exhausting hair before you, all the cold cuts, the drooling, the torture that precedes the hiccup at the end. So it should be brief or rich. »

war It starts from the beginning on the battlefield. Ferdinand, Selene’s alter ego, was wounded in the arm and head, screaming among the corpses, almost fainting, telling himself that there was no point in rebelling. “Except for the hours when I had surgery, I never completely lost consciousness again. I’ve always slept like that in the midst of the agonizing noise since December 14. The war is burning in my head. It’s locked in my head.”

Thus, Celine went back to his WWI wounds which he said he had suffered all his life. He complained all his life, even after the concentration camps of World War II.

The two young men, Destoches, recuperated at a military hospital in Hasbrouck, here renamed Peurdu-sur-la-Lys. In this strange theater where you can hear the bombs in the distance, there is a doctor who wants to slaughter him, a nurse, “La Espinas”, mocking wounded soldiers, and his friend Pipert, named in this manuscript. Cascade, Angèle’s pimp. Ferdinand will leave with Angel for London after the execution of her friend with the help of an English client of a prostitute. We are in a devastated and ruthless world.

At the time, we weren’t talking about PTSD. His character is constantly haunted by the haunting sounds of war. “I looked at her life, and I almost tormented myself. When she puts me in agony forever, I’ll spit in her face like that. She’s all stupid from a point, don’t fool me, I know her well. I saw him. We’ll meet each other again. We have an account together. Fuck him.” »

It sounds like a program and a promise where you don’t believe that “life is so fragile,” because Ferdinand’s suffering and aggressiveness mingle with a lull in front of me, like a fierce drive for life after surviving a horror. war She is also a porn novel, she wants to show obscenity everywhere, not just in sex, she is very present in the novel. “I felt that there was still a lot of life inside, which was fending for itself, so to speak. I would not have imagined that it was possible if someone had told me. He says accurately. And I realize I only quoted you some excerpts from the first pages of war, which I leave you the freedom to discover it. because reading warwhich we never thought we’d find, is essentially a personal rediscovery for Celine readers, who want to go to the end of a journey where the night never ends.




184 pages
In libraries on Thursday

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