Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Will Self on Celine

The NYTBR presents an essay by Will Self on Celine. Self covers quite a bit of ground in this essay, but I'll just give you the closing graph (because he's spot on):
As for assaying the significance of “Journey” on this, its timely reissue, may I make some special pleading? This is the novel, perhaps more than any other, that inspired me to write fiction. Céline showed me that it was possible to convey things that had heretofore seemed inaccessible. Specifically, he showed how to yoke the equine demands of the body to the golden cart of fantasy, to create a form of dirty magic realism. When the novel first appeared, it was still possible to believe in the avant-garde: there were important things to be said, things suppressed by taboo and prejudice. Now, everything is permitted and nothing is heard. Yet, despite this, Céline’s voice still sounds out: bullying, loud, pathetic, craven and ultimately, I feel, triumphant.
Boy, would I like to have a drink with these two. Though I can't imagine the evening ending well.

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