CASTLE TO CASTLE by Louis-Ferdinand Celine


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Celine is the genius of naturalism turning upon itself, disgusted with the universe, most of all disgusted with art. He is ""the inspired gravedigger of a decaying world,"" a Zola in a nightmare of twentieth century stench, hate, rage, betrayals, hideous swansongs. His novels are autobiographical effusions of fact and hallucination, held together by an ebullient misanthropy, a profound disrespect for conventional ethics, and a totally uncompromising knowledge of fascist Europe in the Thirties and early Forties. The theme of all his works is that of the deluge, (""Je fabrique l'Opera du deluge""), on which floats the excrement of human pelf, ideals, aggressions. Castle to Castle recalls his much misunderstood experiences as a doctor in a collapsing Third Reich, principally the Gothic shambles of Siegmaringen, where distrusted by both the SS and his fellow refugees from France he envisions, not without glee, the approaching holocaust. At the same time he drenches his ""narrative"" in Rabelaisian drek (on women: ""the more cities burn, the more one massacres, hangs, draws and quarters, the more they are crazy about sex""), or Nietzschean tom-toms (""Hitler, semi-everything, image of Brandenburg, bastard Caesar, semi-painter, semi-ham actor, credulous, stupid, sly, semi-queen, and champion bungler!""). The invective, the ejaculatory prose, the endlessly foaming, torturous scenes of goose-stepping crackpots, martyrs, victims, and assorted clowns every now and then miraculously meet in an overwhelming hymn, like the voices of a smirking, yet somehow strangely ennobling, medieval chores calling to death at the edge of the grave. Passionately inhumane.

Pub Date: Dec. 31st, 1968
ISBN: 156478150X
Publisher: Delacorte