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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Journeys to the Extreme

The first English-language biography in more than two decades of the French writer, one of the great novelists of the twentieth century.
Louis-Ferdinand Céline was one of the most innovative novelists of the twentieth century, and his influence both in his native France and beyond remains huge. This book sheds light on Céline’s groundbreaking novels, which drew extensively on his complex life: he rose from humble beginnings to worldwide literary fame, then dramatically fell from grace only to return, belatedly, to the limelight. Céline’s subversive writing remains fresh and urgent today, despite his controversial political views and inflammatory pamphlets that threatened to ruin his reputation. The first English-language biography of Céline in more than two decades, this book explores new material and reminds us why the author belongs in the pantheon of modern greats.

400 pages | 26 halftones | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

Biography and Letters

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"Louis-Ferdinand Céline is comprehensive and lucid. . . . The book is particularly good on the scandal of Céline being republished. . . . Aside from the political iniquities, Catani argues that Céline wasn't an unrepentant pessimist but a badly bruised optimist. It is hard to believe, as we are informed, that the razor-tongued Céline composed a ballet called The Birth of a Fairy."


"Catani does plenty of work to tie his reading of Celine’s life to the present day, spotlighting, for instance, a strain of contemporary French scholarship that interprets the author’s anti-Semitic writings as hiding 'behind an ironic aesthetic façade.' Readers interested in the perennial debate about whether or how to separate the art from the artist will find much to consider in this thoughtful work."

Publishers Weekly

“In this major new biography of Céline, Damian Catani deftly weaves together the life and the work allowing each to illuminate the other in a brilliant portrait. One of the twentieth century’s most important literary figures, Céline emerges here in all his ambivalence, his outstanding talent as a writer matched only by his obvious flaws as an individual.”

Ian James, Reader in Modern French Literature and Thought, University of Cambridge, and author of "The Technique of Thought" and "The New French Philosophy"

“One of the best French writers ever, who re-invented the very language of literature, and a complete SALOPARD.”

Marie Darrieussecq

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