Monday, September 11, 2006

Journey to the End of the Night

A nice essay on Celine's Journey to the End of the Night in the new york times book review. Another book that has been on my to-read list for long!

But if this biography suggests a varied and sympathetic apprehension of the world, it was with a far darker palette that Céline came to paint his word-pictures when he began writing in the late 1920’s. Straightforward fear adumbrates his invective, which — despite the reputation he would later earn as a rabid anti-Semite — is aimed against all classes and races of people with indiscriminate abandon. Indeed, if “Ulysses” is the great modernist novel most inspired by a desire for humanistic inclusion, then “Journey” is its antithesis: a stream of misanthropic consciousness, almost unrelieved by any warmth or fellow-feeling. I say almost, because Céline does have some weaknesses, notably for children. As Bardamu puts it, when his concierge’s nephew is dying: “You never mind very much when an adult passes on. If nothing else, you say to yourself, it’s one less stinker on earth, but with a child you can never be so sure. There’s always the future.”

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