Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Extract from Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Death on the Installment Plan:

In the beginning everybody had liked him in his new job. And then all of a sudden they didn't like him ... they were sick of his mug and everything about him ... they couldn't stand him. So they did everything in their power to make life miserable for him. They ran him down, accusing him of everything imaginable, of having dirty hands, of getting his doses wrong, of not knowing which drugs were poisonous ... of bad breath ... of wearing buttoned shoes ... When they'd tormented him so much he was ashamed to be seen in the street and after threatening a thousand times to fire him like a fart, they changed their minds and began to tolerate him for no good reason, except that they were sick of regarding him as a punk ...
All the filth, the envy, the vexation of the district had put its mark on his map. He'd suffered all the gall and rancor of the pen-pushers in his clinic. The hangovers of the 14,000 alcoholics of the district, the gastric catarrhs, the excruciating stoppages of the 6,442 cases of clap that he wasn't able to cure, the ovarian pangs of the 4,376 menopause cases, the querulous anxiety of 2,266 sufferers from high blood pressure, the irreconcilable contempt of 722 bilious headaches, the persecution mania of 47 tapeworm owners, plus the 352 mothers of children with worms, and the nondescript mob, the vast horde of masochists with manias of every kind, the eczema patients, the albuminous, the diabetic, the fetid, the palsied, the vaginous, the useless, the "too muches," the "not enoughs," the constipated, the repentant queers, whole shipments of murderers had been flowing over his face, cascading under his glasses morning and afternoon for thirty years.