Saturday, 22 August 2009

eminence

Extract from Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night:

Parapine was an undisputed eminence in his special field. He knew all there was to know about typhoid in animals as well as human beings. His reputation went back twenty years to the day when certain German authors claimed to have isolated the Ebertella in the vaginal excreta of an eighteen-month-old girl, so creating an enormous stir in the Halls of Truth. Only too delighted to take up the challenge in the name of the National Institute, Parapine had outdone those Teutonic braggarts by breeding the same microbes, now in its pure form, in the sperm of a seventy-two-year-old invalid. Instantly famous, he managed to hold the limelight for the rest of his life by publishing a few unreadable columns in various medical journals. This he had done without difficulty ever since his day of audacity and good fortune.
The serious scientific public trusted him implicitly and consequently had no need to read him. If those people were to start getting critical, no further progress would be possible. They would spend a whole year on every page.
When I came to the door of his cell, Serge Parapine was spitting steady streams into all four corners of his laboratory, with a grimace of such disgust that it made you wonder. Parapine shaved every now and then, but he always had enough hair on his cheeks to make him look like an escaped convict. He was always shivering or at least he seemed to be, though he never removed his overcoat, which presented a large assortment of spots and still more dandruff, which he would scatter far and wide with little flicks of his fingernails, at the same time bringing his always oscillating forelock back into position over his red-and-green nose.

1 comment:

L'étranger 105.4FM said...

Followed you here from Dennis Cooper, just to say earmarked your blog, nice work! Recently in the South of France and Céline still vibrates there like a half ton hair-dryer, people shocked that he was published in Israel was one of many arguments overheard on the stairs waiting to get into a two man theatre play 'Dieu, qu'ils étaient lourds' at the Avingon Theatre Festival, which is based on his 1950's TV & radio interviews mixed with extracts from 'Conversations With Professor Y',.. talking about that, a must read is the book about Celine by the 'Y' of the title, professor Milton Hindus : 'The Crippled Giant'... includes extensive correspondence written between them just post-war (1946) when Hindus was perhaps the only lifeline Céline had to the outside world. Ripe with insults, including the well known one liner from Céline, in answer to why his books sold so well : "the public is like a woman, it wants be fucked"... best from Brussels