Buy This Book
Aaron Matz writes:
Nearly 50 years after his death, Normance is the last of Céline’s novels to be translated into English. He has always had a sizeable Anglophone readership, especially in America, where novelists from Henry Miller (‘I don’t care whether he’s a Fascist … he can write’) to Kurt Vonnegut (‘every writer is in his debt’) to Philip Roth (‘Céline is my Proust!’) have declared their loyalty to his radical voice. Normance was probably unknown to these writers, but its style and ambitions would be largely familiar. We need only look at a single page of this book or of any of his novels after Voyage au bout de la nuit – the exclamation marks like spittle or gunfire, the ellipses forbidding us to catch our breath – to be reminded that Céline looks, and sounds, like no other novelist. In Normance the voice erupts at the highest decibels: ‘my voice! my instrument! … vocal cords worn out howling!’ It blurs into paranoid rant: ‘everyone who’s ever done me wrong, robbed me, repudiated me, pillaged me …’ It burns its fuel on misanthropy: ‘when it comes to human beings, I’m only interested in the sick … the ones who can stand up are nothing but mounds of vice and spite.’ And it does all this in the guise of autobiography, or pseudo-autobiography: one reason for Céline’s influence on these Americans and many other writers too.