Céline (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
To the studies of Céline by Madeleine Chapsal, Robert Poulet, and Pol Vandromme was recently added a major biography by Patrick McCarthy, a Professor of French at Haverford College. So carefully researched and written is this newest study that Céline may now have found his definitive biographer. McCarthy could hardly have found a more complex and contradictory writer and personality for his study.
Céline succeeds in giving a balanced evaluation of the man, his works, and his significance, both literary and political. McCarthy insists that the pamphlets which Céline wrote in the 1930’s must be included as an integral part of his works although they do not appear in the most complete edition of the Oeuvres complètes. He also wants to show that Céline’s later novels are artistic and are a further step in his evolution as a novelist. In seeking to understand the unrelenting pessimism which dominates both Céline’s creative works and his work as a doctor, McCarthy studies the era in which he lived and the personalities that influenced him, not neglecting the myths and fictions that grew up around this legendary character. McCarthy writes: “The purpose of this book is to separate the pieces—and then to put them back again.”
McCarthy arranges his biography in a traditional chronological manner, opening with a discussion of the first forty years of his subject’s life and of the publication of his first novel; he...
(The entire section is 2200 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Booklist. LXXIII, September 15, 1976, p. 109.
Harper’s Magazine. CCLIII, August, 1976, p. 76.
New York Times Book Review. July 18, 1976, p. 1.
New Yorker. LII, September 13, 1976, p. 154.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCIX, May 17, 1976, p. 51.
Saturday Review. XXVII, April 7, 1976, p. 27.
(The entire section is 33 words.)