Landmark: Journey to the End of the Night
Marie Darrieussecq, Andrew Hussey, Damian Catani and Tibor Fischer join Rana Mitter to explore Céline's WW1 masterpiece.
Better than Proust -- the man who made literature out of colloquial French -- the arch chronicler of human depravity --- some of the things that are said about Louis Ferdinand Céline, author of Journey to the End of the Night - one of the masterpieces of 20th century literature.
His semi- autobiographical novel, first published in 1932, is a ferocious assault on the hypocrisy and idiocy of his time. It follows its anti hero Ferdinand Bardamu from the battlefields of the First World War to Africa and America before returning to Paris and a chilling confrontation with his demons. The book established Céline as a an original and dangerous voice amongst the generation of writers who emerged from the carnage of the Great War. The fluency of his prose, its tone and bristling attitude has won him many admirers among them Philip Roth and Joseph Heller. He's entered popular culture too -- being quoted by Jim Morrison in the Doors' song End of the Night. But as well as the praise there's been criticism - not least for the vicious anti-Semitism that surfaces in some of his later work.
To explore the novel and the man Rana Mitter is joined by the writers, Marie Darrieussecq and Tibor Fischer, the literary historian, Andrew Hussey, and Céline's latest biographer, Damian Catani.
Marie Darrieussecq is the author of novels including Pig Tales, Tom is Dead and her latest Our Life in the Forest
Andrew Hussey is the author of The French Intifada : The Long War Between France and its Arabs
Tibor Fischer is the author of the novels, How to Rule the World, Under the Frog and The Thought Gang.
Damian Catani teaches at Birkbeck College in London and is writing a biography of Céline that will be published in 2020 by Reaktion Books.
Producer: Zahid Warley