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Meditation on Céline

July 24, 2011

Some poet made comments recently on another venue, on still another Social Network, about one of my poems & about my listing Louis-Ferdinand Céline as a favorite writer, somehow linking my poem to him.  One (me) need not agree with a writer’s philosophy/ideology/aesthetic in order to read them.  In fact, some (others) would say that’s who we should read, those we disagree with, rather than those whom we find simpatico.

Céline was a collaborationist in World War II Vichy France.  His writings, before & after World War II, are filled with obscene invectives against Jews, women, his publishers, his fellow writers, his neighbors, politicians, communists, fascists, Nazis — basically everyone he ever encountered (except his wife & his dog).  He was a nasty anti-Semite, but then he hated everyone else too.

& yet, he was a poor, working-class physician, his patients the despised in France & later in Siegmaringen where he fled among the leaders of the French government, & he was  a writer whose work became reviled — as well as celebrated.  Read his late Castle to Castle for a self-portrait of a sad, angry man at the end of his ropes, or the book that got everyone’s attention, Journey to the End of Night.

But none of my poems have any reference to Céline, his work or his life.  The one quote below on my Blog on thighs is just one of my favorites from a notebook of great quotes that I keep.  There are other more obvious influences on my work, some more direct than others.  These are the poets you should be looking to.

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