Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s novelistic production can be divided into three principal phases, which are usually linked to developments in the author’s life. Thus, one can discern an initial period consisting of the novels written before he fled to Denmark, which concludes with the publication of Guignol’s Band. The two volumes of Fable for Another Time constitute a second phase in Céline’s literary production, for they mark the resumption of his literary career after his return to France and the controversial resolution of his political difficulties. In both novels, there is an increasing confusion—literally and figuratively—among protagonist, narrator, and author, as Céline proclaims his innocence as the scapegoat for a guilt-ridden French nation. The final phase of his literary production, consisting of the wartime trilogy Castle to Castle, North, and Rigadoon, continues the self-justification begun in Fable for Another Time, though in far less strident terms, as the character Ferdinand describes his perilous journey to Denmark.
Céline’s novels are linked by the role and character of their respective protagonists, all of whom, except for the Bardamu of Journey to the End of the Night, are named Ferdinand and constitute variations on the same personality. The early novels emphasize the ironic interplay between the naïve protagonist being initiated into life and the protagonist...
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