Castle to Castle

Castle to Castle

by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

It is Germany near the end of World War II, the Allies have landed, and members of the Vichy France government have been sequestered in a labyrinthine castle, replete with secret passages and subterranean hideaways. The group of 1,400 terrified officials, their wives, mistresses, flunkies, and Nazi protectorsincluding Céline, his wife, their cat, and an actor friendattempt to postpone the postwar reckoning under the constant threat of air raids and starvation.

  • Series: Exile trilogy
  • Language: English
  • Category: Fiction
  • Rating: 3.81
  • Pages: 362
  • Publish Date: March 1st 1997 by Dalkey Archive Press
  • Isbn10: 156478150X
  • Isbn13: 9781564781505

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I've lived with Celine for what?, forty years now? I don't know that there's anything of his I haven't read (in French), including the "banned" books. No one who knows and reads French and who consumes Celine has any doubts as to his sanity. And that's a good thing, though obviously an easy out, for anyone who really gets into and appreciates the rock 'n roll of Celinian French prose. I've been a member by marriage of a rather traditional French family for 42 years. And Celine's prose really does ring true, not just with my family members, but also with all of the hundreds of French characters I've met, listened to and spent time with in cafes and elsewhere over the past almost half century. (Check out "Les Triplets de Belleville" if you don't believe me.) And Celine's works are nothing if not in-jokes for French people. Celine's language is much more characteristic of his times than of now. I don't know if he ever wrote such a thing, but I surely would like to read at least an essay by Richard Cobb about Celine. Whatever your American background, you will probably be able to find at this date (2012) most people in France living in a manner quite similar to your own. If his language no longer cuts the mustard what continuing value is there in Celine? I guess Celine will be rather like old pop music from way back when. Celine will be an old song that most people no longer remember.

Unfortunately, Celine in his derangement perceived his public judgement and persecution to be of personal bent. Whether he was being glib or not, I credit Joshua Cohen for inviting me to return to Celine after so long.

As I said in my earlier update, I never thought I would read this book; didn't think I would understand it..., if I did; and so assumed I wouldn't like it.

Samo dok to citate znate da je sve bas tako, nista manje surovo nego sto on kaze.

There is no-one quite like him, and yet all who followed him owed him something. Theres no twentieth century writer more important than Céline. You dont have to like him. This book looks back at a period both after his return to Paris when living in Meudon, and during his stay at the castle Seigmaringen with Vichy officials and others who had been threatened with execution once France was liberated. So we get three Célines, including the one that is now writing, and directly addresses the reader on frequent occasions. Céline is important to them as a doctor, but also as the man who doesnt like the Jews and has that in writing; he is a sacrificial scribe, with the Allies sweeping east, and the RAF and American Flying Fortresses constantly flying unchallenged overhead. Céline is a true artist, but hes also a single man, and a pauper. It lives or dies there. Céline reveals all, but he shows discretion, to the death, even in the grammar, like black marks on a censored piece of anti-whatever propaganda. He falls short a lot, but he is fantastically in touch with just how much he does, that he hits the mark, every time. Céline is like any of us, angry about how 99% of the time, no matter what you think of the world, no matter what good you might be able to do, nothing you do can make a difference, really ... But when that other 1% pops up, like a woman going into labor on a freezing train, then you see Céline go into action, and, suddenly, there's no spoilsport or cynicism or obscenity, malignancy or clowning.

Louis-Ferdinand Destouches was raised in Paris, in a flat over the shopping arcade where his mother had a lace store. Released from military service, he studied medicine and emigrated to the USA where he worked as a staff doctor at the newly build Ford plant in Detroit before returning to France and establishing a medical practice among the Parisian poor.