should we still read Céline?

74b4b8fc-0677-11e8-8e80-008642e5faa14Frederic Raphael at the TLS:

Céline saw little to relish in the human condition, even before he decided precisely whose diabolical conspiracy was responsible for its irreversible decay. A New York showgirl-cum-whore called Molly is the only character in his long novel whom the narrator, Bardamu, depicts with a trace of affection. Céline told his English translator, in 1934, “pratiquement la femme est mère ou putain”. Bardamu’s only friend, Robinson, is a revenant loner (cf. Crusoe?), who stalks rather than consoles him.

Céline’s jagged masterpiece reads like the grumpy shtick of a paranoid one-man bandsman. His disgust with human beings appears to have originated in the carnage of the Great War, in which the young Louis-Ferdinand was a teenage combatant. The brave, foolhardy colonel who literally loses his head in the early pages of Voyage has something in common with Evelyn Waugh’s biffing Brigadier Ritchie-Hook; but his creator lacks any faith in the patriotic cause, still less in the Judaeo-Christian God. Nothing on earth was worth dying or living for and there was nothing else. Bardamu’s anti-pilgrim’s progress takes him to war, to colonial Africa, to 1920s New York, then to medical practice in a slummy Parisian banlieue. The slough of despond was always his likeliest return address.

more here.