Solomon examines the principal themes and structures of the novels of French writer Louis Ferdinand Céline, taking into account his theatre, anti-Semitic pamphlets, and critical works. A biographical introduction and a chronology note the historical and private events that shaped the writer's life and influenced his development as a writer. An overview of Céline's writings explores the author's vision of the human condition and his perception of the redemptive value of the work of art by which the disorder of life is resolved by the order of writing. Emphasis is placed on the self-reflective nature of Céline's fiction, particularly on the function of the mythologized head wound to express the transition between autobiography and fiction.
Each of the volume's principal characters is devoted to an individual novel or closely related group of novels, considered in chronological order. A brief plot summary and indication of the work's particular relevance for the reader precedes the analysis of the text. Each work, from Journey to the End of the Night to Rigadoon, is considered not only with respect to its intrinsic interest but also in terms of its describing a phase in the apprenticeship of life that Céline's picaresque protagonist undergoes as he is progressively stripped of his illusions and comes to resemble the narrator more closely.
Philip H. Solomon is associate professor of French at Southern Methodist University. He received his B.A. in French from Queens College and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, under Germaine Brée. This is his second book on Céline. He has also published a study of Samuel Beckett's trilogy and written on François Mauriac and Claude Simon. Solomon is currently at work on a book that will examine the role of Paris in the twentieth-century French novel.