How can one fail to see that everything denounced by Céline at the end of the Thirties is true and even worse since then?
Quite. And the current squalid kerfuffle over the publication of his retroactively criminalized pamphlets merely adds to the evidence of how little the country that claims his genius deserves it. But then, what country could possibly stake a legitimate claim to Céline, the quintessential vagabond, the man who seemed to have a knack for making himself unwelcome wherever he went?
To really appreciate Céline, you have like him to lack roots in the modern world, to be a traitor to every party, to be intellectually and culturally homeless. Céline’s made himself an untouchable out of dogged loyalty to what he saw, touched, heard, smelled, tasted. His undoing was the the result of his steadfast refusal to lie. You sense that this refusal did not arise from some abstract moral principle. It came from artistic pride. Céline refused to lie because he was an aesthete of the highest order, uninterested in finding beauty by keeping his head upturned and contemplating the heavens but possessed by a fury to give form to the chaos encroaching from all sides. The lesson of his work is that beauty is not in the world but in suffering it, in enduring it, in voyaging to the end of the night.
Along with Nietzsche, he is one of the, perhaps, handful of writers who matter to me.