Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894-1961) was one of the great innovators of twentieth century French literature. His first novel, Journey to the End of the Night, completely changed the literary landscape when it appeared in 1932, praised by the critics and Leon Trotsky alike. After the relative failure of his second novel, Death on the Installment Plan (1936) he then turned to political pamphlets, first attacking the Soviet Union in Mea Culpa in 1936, and then writing three horrifically anti-Semitic pamphlets, which have tarnished his reputation ever since. Though he denied collaborating with the Nazis or ever writing for the Collaborationist press, he in fact supported them wholly, and though he never wrote articles for Collaborationist journals he instead wrote letters to them or allowed himself to be interviewed by them. As the Vichy regime collapsed he followed its members to Germany, and his observations of their collapse served as the source for his great late trilogy: North, Castle to Castle, and Rigodon. Imprisoned in Denmark after the war, he later returned to France, where he died in Meudon in the Paris suburbs, his last years spent complaining of the threat posed by a Chinese invasion.

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