Saturday, 13 February 2010


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

My father was so preoccupied with his typing exercises and his dread of being fired from Coccinelle that even at supper he was deep in thought. He'd lost interest in me. He'd made up his mind about me once and for all ... the idea was firmly anchored in his dome that I was villainy incarnate ... a hopeless blockhead ... and that was that ... that I had no part in the worries, the anxieties of noble individuals ... I wasn't the kind that would carry my suffering around with me in my flesh like a knife ... And keep it turning as long as I lived ... Far from it ... And jerk the handle ... And stick it in deeper! To heighten the pain ... And bellow and broadcast every new step forward in my suffering! Of course not. And turn into a fakir in the Passage! Side by side with them! Sure, something miraculous, something people could worship! Something more and more perfect! That's it. A thousand times more anxious, more harassed, more miserable! ... The saint engendered by hard work and family thrift ... Sure, why not? More muddleheaded ... Sure ... A hundred times thriftier! Glory be! Something that had never been seen before in the Passage or anywhere else ... In the whole world ... Christ! ... The child marvel ... the marvel of all France ... the wonder of wonders! But nothing like that could be expected of me ... I had a depraved nature ... It was inexplicable ... There wasn't a speck or straw of honor in me ... I was rotten through and through ... repulsive, degenerate! I was unfeeling, I had no future ... I was as dry as a salt herring ... I was a hard-hearted debauchee ... a dungheap ... full of sullen rancor ... I was life's disillusionment ... I was grief itself. And I ate my lunch and supper there, not to mention my morning coffee ... They did their Duty! I was their cross on earth! ... I'd never have a conscience! ... I was nothing but a bundle of debased instincts and a hollow that devoured my family's sorry pittance and all their sacrifices. In a way I was a vampire ... It was no use thinking about it ...

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