Louis-Ferdinand Céline: “I Have Always Been an Anarchist”


Source: Choix de Lettres de Louis-Ferdinand Céline, edited by Henri Godard and Jean-Paul Louis. Paris, Bibliotheque de la Pléaide, 2009;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2012.

(After the fascist riots of February 6, 1934 the great novelist Louis-Ferdinand Céline was called upon by the art historian Élie Faure to denounce the right-wing threat. He sent Faure two responses to his request. )

March 18, 1934
Dear friend:

You know how much I admire, how enthusiastic I am, how I venerate all you have thought, given, and written. I have made much use of your oeuvre. I have read closely, pillaged, and learned from your texts. I still do so and always will. You are one of my rare teachers, and undoubtedly the closest, the most direct. It is not a question of any of this when I rebel against your current directives. I absolutely refuse to line up on this side or that. I am an anarchist to the tip of my toes. I always was one and I will never be anything else. Everyone has spit on me, from Izvestia to the official Nazis, M. de Regnier, Comodia, Stavisky, president Dullin, all of them in almost the same exact terms have declared me unacceptable, unspeakable. I haven’t done this on purpose, but it’s a fact. I’m fine with this, because I’m in the right. Every political system is an enterprise of hypocritical narcissism which consists in projecting the personal ignominy of its adherents onto a system or onto “others.” I admit that I live quite well; I proclaim loudly, emotionally, and strongly all of man’s common disgustingness, on the right and the left. I will never be forgiven for this. Since the death of the priests the world is nothing but demagoguery, shit is constantly flattered, and responsibility is rejected through ideological and verbal artifice.

There is no more contrition; there is nothing but chants of revolt and hope. But hope for what? That shit will start smelling good?

My dear friend, I betray no one, I ask nothing of anyone. Perhaps I’ll be executed (they’ll be taking numbers to do this).

Both Lenin and Napoleon failed in their affairs. They applied heated rods and shouted a cure had been effected. Nonsense. All this revolutionary cynicism (NOT YOURS) is nothing but vulgar, eternal selfishness armed with new subterfuges. If it organizes itself as communism then you’ll really see something. More sordid than the former ones. I know them well, the apostles and the heroes, on the right and the left. I have lived with them day and night for thirty years. Revolution. Right away. But first of themselves. Not these lazy souls and spirits, cocktail or Picon aperitif. Why choose?



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