In France, when one looks at literature in the 20th century, there are two great mountains: Celine and Proust. You scale both at your own risk. Even louder when you croak! Celine is a complicated case. When a person seeks out his grave in the cemetery at Meudon, just outside Paris, there are no helpful signs, no tourist promotions because there is no way to make safe this most dangerous of writers.
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Welcome sign in sign up. Destouches was a physician who worked at a public clinic in Clichy treating poor and working-class patients; Pam was a twenty-seven-year-old Viennese gymnastics instructor eleven years his junior on a visit to the city. Destouches suggested a stroll in the Bois de Boulogne, took Pam to dinner later that night, and afterward took her home. Two weeks together began, after which Pam returned to her work and life in Vienna.
Over the next seven years, they saw each other infrequently but corresponded regularly. Pam, who was Jewish, married and had a son. In February , Destouches received word that Pam had lost her husband: he had been seized, sent to Dachau, and killed. On February 21, Destouches wrote to Pam, who had fled abroad:. What awful news! Were you able to take a little money with you? How will you work?
Where will Europe be by the time you receive this letter? On my side, my little dramas are nothing compared to yours for the moment , but tragedy looms nonetheless…. You see, Jews can persecute too.
How a reader responds to this letter is, I suspect, a fair predictor of how capable he or she might be of tolerat-ing the extreme disjunctions that predominate in the life and art of its author. This is exclusive content for subscribers only. Choose a Print, Digital, or All Access subscription.
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This most dangerous of writers
EXECRABLE SPEECH: LOUIS-FERDINAND CÉLINE’S BAGATELLES POUR UN MASSACRE