The Céline Anti-Semitic Pamphlet Gap

In the new issue of the NYRB, Wyatt Mason has a nice essay on Louis-Ferdinand Céline, and it’s among the free articles. Therein we learn, among other things, that the English language lacks sufficient translations of Céline’s anti-Semitic writings:

My own sense is that such a letter would astonish most readers—words of condolence over anti-Semitic violence do not often contain anti-Semitic sympathies—except those who have read not only Céline’s novels but also what have been inaccurately termed, for generations, his “anti-Semitic pamphlets.” Alas, no English-speaking reader who does not know French could make so comprehensive a survey. Though all eight of Céline’s novels are now available in dependable English translations, the so-called anti-Semitic pamphlets have never been officially published in English. Having recently read them in French in bootleg editions readily available online,[1] I should report that the letter above, taken in that larger, less available context, isn’t astonishing in the least. Rather, it’s exactly the sort of letter one would expect from an anti-Semite of Céline’s tireless and impenitent ardor, a writer who, from 1937 to 1944, spent all his flagrant literary energy and aptitude calling—shouting—for the death of every Jew in France (for a start).


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