Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Louis Ferdinand Auguste Destouches ( Courbevoie , 27 as maypole as 1894 – Paris , 1 as July as 1961 ), better known by his pseudonym Louis-Ferdinand Céline listen ( ? · I ) or only by Céline , one was a writer and medical French . 

He is considered one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, since he developed a new style of writing that modernized both French and universal literature. After Marcel Proust , is the most translated and popular author of French literature of the twentieth century; His most famous novel is Journey to the End of the Night .

On the other hand, his figure remains in controversy because of his anti-Semitic pamphlets. 2


Early years

He born in Courbevoie , just outside Paris , the Seine (now Hauts-de-Seine ) on 27 of maypole of 1894 . The only son of Ferdinand-Auguste Destouches and Marguerite-Louise-Céline Guilloux, his father was employed in an insurance company and his mother made lace. 3 The grandmother ran a small embroidery shop. After his death in 1904 the modest inheritance he left allowed to send the little Louis-Ferdinand to a private school. After obtaining his diploma Certificat d’études in 1905, he began to work as an apprentice and messenger in various businesses, and between 1908 and 1910 his parents sent him to Germany and England for a year in each country to learn languages. 3 Many of these experiences were transposed literarily in his second novel, Death on credit .

At eighteen he enlisted in a cavalry unit . He participated in World War I where he was badly injured in Ypres , leaving him with a damaged arm, ringing in the ear and headaches that would haunt him for a lifetime. He was granted the Médaille militaire because he had volunteered for the mission in which he was wounded. In Journey at the end of the night he would say: ” I tell you, unhappy, fucked up of life, defeated, skinned, always drenched with sweat; I warn you: when the great men of this world begin to love you it is because they are going to become cannon fodder. ” Céline, Louis-Ferdinand (2008) Journey at the end of the night .

He was assigned to the French consulate in London , where he frequents the underworld. In 1915 he married Suzanne Nebout, a French waitress who lived in London, but the marriage was not registered in the French consulate. In 1916 he enrolled as a logger and left for Africa , where he contracted malaria during the year he spent there; This experience, with a terrible satire of life in the French colonies of Africa, is reflected in his Journey to the end of the night . On his return to Paris worked in the scientific magazine Eureka , where he met Dr. Athanase Follet , a director of a medical school, under whose influence the author studied medicine.

He finished high school and in 1919 married Athanase’s daughter, Edith Follet , with whom he had his only daughter, Colette. In the mid-1920s he joined the League of Nations as an expert on hygiene. It was destined to Geneva , but it makes constant trips to the United States , Cuba , Canada and England . He also spent long periods in Nigeria and Senegal . Due to long absences, he would end his second marriage to Edith Follet two years after graduating.

In 1926 he met his lover Elizabeth Craig in Geneva , an American born in 1902 with whom he lived in Paris until 1933 . In one of his first interviews after the publication of Viaje at the end of the night the appointment as one of his teachers. Traces of Elizabeth Craig may be found throughout Journey at the end of the night , a book dedicated to her, particularly in the characters of Lola and Molly.

In 1927 he opened a private practice, which did not work, so he had to work as an assistant of a dispensary in Clichy . In 1931 he gave the manuscript of Journey at the end of the night to a secretary, to be typed. The following year the novel was published and obtained an extraordinary reception by the public and the critic; He used an antiacademic and oral French, uninhibited and unhinged.

Céline wrote three pacifist pamphlets: Bagatelles pour un massacre ( 1937 ), L’École des cadavres ( 1938 ) and Les Beaux draps ( 1941 ), strongly anti-Semitic.

Last period and death

Fearing for her life, when the end of World War II approaches, Céline leaves France in 1944 with her third wife, Lucette, with whom she shared everything from 1936 until her death, first to Germany and then to Denmark in 1945 Where he was arrested on the orders of the French government accused of collaborating during the Nazi occupation of France and spent more than a year in prison. Later, in 1950, he is sentenced in absentia to a year in prison and declared national misfortune in France, where he will not return until 1951 after being amnestied.

Céline returned to fame later on thanks to her trilogy in which she explains her exile D’un château l’autre ( From one castle to another , in which she describes the fall of the German city of Sigmaringa ), Nord ( North ) and Rigodon ( Rigodón ).

On his return to France he settled in Meudon , a suburb of Paris, where he continued to write and was visited by several friends and artists, including the famous actress Arletty . Acquainted fame among the Beat movement , William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg also visited it in the fifties. He continued working as a doctor for the disadvantaged until his death, the first of July of 1961 of a cerebral aneurism . He was buried in the small cemetery of Bas Meudon in the department of Hauts-de-Seine .

Controversy in anniversary of his death

In 2011 the Government of France was going to pay him a tribute, but was canceled due to the strong pressure from social groups due to his anti- Semitic opinions . 4 5


His most famous work is Journey to the End of the Night ( Voyage au bout de la nuit ), a narrative of autobiographical features published in 1932 . Its protagonist, Ferdinand Bardamu, enrolled in a moment of stupidity in the French army and disgusted in the trenches of the First World War, decides to defect pretending to be crazy, not without presenting all sorts of picturesque characters, and the absurdity and brutality of war. After this and a courtship with an American , Lola, she goes to a boat – in which the other passengers want to lynch it -, heading for a French colony in Africa . His description of the French colonial system is hilarious and extremely critical: he says, more or less, that the French colonies are the paradise of pederasts and that everything is based on the exploitation of the Negro (an idea reminiscent of Joseph’s Heart of Darkness Conrad ). Some fevers end this adventure and arrive in a state close to slavery to the United States. He escapes in New York , where he lives for a while and is reunited with Lola, whom he extorts. He travels again, this time to Detroit , where he becomes friends with an American prostitute, but returns to Paris and exercises medicine despite the disgust that his clientele gives him.

The appearance of Viaje at the end of the night was an unparalleled literary innovation. Oral language, rude and very jargon, shocked contemporaries and went much further than writers who tried, before Céline, to write using this record, as Emile Zola . His prose, as his approach to issues, and the subjects themselves, is extremely violent, bitter and brittle. His rhythm is savage, accelerated-and in him rests much of the literary merit of the author. His language is alive, free of all kinds of formalities, to write in the most expressive way possible.

Céline evidences a vision of the world and its inhabitants skinny and scathing. Defender of presenting the misery without decorations that turn it into a parody , considers that showing human nature without masks is an act of sincerity. “In Céline’s choice for aggressive writing, the taste for jokes – more precisely, occurrences – and provocation are based in this case on a permanent awareness of its value as a writer.” 6

Lively in style, sometimes untranslatable because of his propensity to imitate oral language, he profoundly influenced later generations. Authors such as Charles Bukowski , Jean-Paul Sartre , Henry Miller , William S. Burroughs , Kurt Vonnegut , Billy Childish , Irvine Welsh and the contemporary Alessandro Baricco acknowledge it as a profound influence on their work.


In 2013 a group of Spanish writers, coordinated by Vicente Muñoz Álvarez and Julio César Álvarez , published a book in homage to Céline entitled El discredit, narrative travels around Louis-Ferdinand Céline , with articles and stories in which his work was recreated And his personality. 7



  • Journey to the end of the night (1932), novel
  • Death on credit ( 1936 ), novel
  • Apology of Death on credit (1936)
  • Guignol’s Band ( 1943 ), novel
  • Casse-pipe ( 1952 ), novel
  • Fantasy for another occasion ( 1952 ), novel
  • Fantasy for Another Chance II – Normance ( 1954 ), novel
  • Conversations with Professor Y ( 1955 )
  • From one castle to another ( 1957 ), novel
  • North ( 1960 ), novel
  • The London Bridge ( 1964 ), novel
  • Rigodón ( 1969 ), novel, posthumous work

Work in narrative

  • The church , drama written around 1930
  • Homage to Zola (1933), speech
  • Mea culpa (1936), anti- Soviet pamphlets
  • Bagatelles for a Massacre (1938), anti-Semitic pamphlet
  • The school of corpses (1938), antisemitic pamphlet
  • Semmelweiss (1936), essay novel
  • Ballet without music, without anyone, without anything


  • 1979 : Cahiers Céline 5: Lettres à des amies . Ed Gallimard
  • 1979: Pierre Monnier: Ferdinand furieux , (313 unpublished letters). Lettera, L’Age D’Homme
  • 1981 : Cahiers Céline 6: Lettres à Albert Paraz 1947-1957 . Ed Gallimard
  • 1984 : Lettres à son avocat: 118 unpublished letters to the Maître Albert Naud . Paris: La Flûte de Pan
  • 1985 : Lettres à Tixier: 44 unpublished letters to Maître Tixier-Vignancour . Paris: La Flûte de Pan
  • 1987 : Lettres to Joseph Garcin (1929-1938) . Paris: Librairie Monnier
  • 1988 : Lettres to Charles Deshayes, 1947-1951 . Paris: Bibliothèque de Littérature Française Contemporaine
  • 1989 : Le questionnaire Sandfort, précédé de neuf lettres unpublished to JA Sandfort . Paris: Librairie Monnier
  • 1991 : Letters to the NRF 1931-1961 . Paris: Gallimard
  • 1991: Lettres à Marie Bell . Aigre: Du Lérot
  • 1991: Céline et les éditions Denoël, 1932-1948 . Paris: IMEC
  • 1995 : Lettres à Marie Canavaggia, 1: 1936-1947 . Tusson: Du Lérot
  • 1995: Lettres à Marie Canavaggia, 2: 1948-1960 . Tusson: Du Lérot
  • 1998 : Lettres de prison à Lucette Destouches et Maître Mikkelsen (1945-1947) . Paris: Gallimard
  • 1999 : Milton Hindus: LF Céline tel que je l’ai vu , L’Herne
  • 2002 : Lettres à Antonio Zuloaga (1947-1954) , text prepared, presented and annotated by Eric Mazet, preface by Philippe Sollers, La Sirène, Paris, 2002 (imprimerie Du Lérot, Tusson)

On the work of Céline

  • B ÉTRTOLO , Constantino , Introductory Prologue to Death on Credit , De La Salle, 2007
  • C ÉLINE SECRETO , Lucette Destouches / Véronique Robert, editorial Veintisiete Letras, 2009. Translation by José María Solé Mariño, 978-84-936358-9-3
  • E L ART OF CÉLINE AND ITS TIME , Michel Bounan , translation of the French by Diego Luis Sanromán, Pumpkin Nuggets , 2012, ISBN 978-84-939437-6-9
  • (In French) C ÉLINE IN CHEMISE BRUNE OR LE MAL DU PRÉSENT , Hanns-Erich Kaminski , Les Nouvelles Éditions Excelsior, 1938.


  1. Back to top↑ “Céline” was the name of her grandmother and one of her mother’s names.
  2. Back to top↑ Fraser, Nicholas (November 26, 2002). The Voice of Modern Hatred: Tracing the Rise of Neo-Fascism in Europe . Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, The. P. 36. ISBN  978-1-58567-332-2 . Retrieved on April 4, 2012 .
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b O’Connell, David (1976). Twayne’s World Author: Louis Ferdinand-Céline . Twayne Publishers. ISBN  0805762566 . P. 14
  4. Back to top↑ The controversy can with the celebration of the anniversary of Céline
  5. Back to top^ Atkins, Stephen E. (2009-04). Holocaust denial as an international movement . ABC-CLIO. Pp. 87-8. ISBN  978-0-313-34538-8 . Retrieved on April 4, 2012 .
  6. Back to top↑ Fantasy for another occasion II – Normance : footnotes , 2, Lumen, 1954.
  7. Back to top↑ Cristina Fanjul, « Céline, a pig, a diamond », Diario de León , October 24, 2013. The authors participating in the discredit are Enrique Vila-Matas , Miguel Sánchez-Ostiz , Mario Crespo , Celia Novis , José angel Barrueco , Oscar Esquivias , Bruno Marcos , Pepe Pereza , Isabel García Mellado , Alex Porter , Vanity Dust , Juanjo Ramirez , Patxi Irurzun , Juan Carlos Vicente , Velpister , Esteban Gutiérrez Gómez , Pablo Cerezal , Javier Esteban , Choche , Miguel Baquero , Carlos Salcedo Odklas , Joaquín Piqueras , Adriana Bañares , Gsús Bonilla , Alfonso Xen Rabanal and Daniel Ruiz García . (Ediciones Lupercalia, Alicante, 2013).