Poverty and wealth | by Céline, the dissident intellectual


Louis-Ferdinand Céline

From the novel Journey to the End of the Night

"... We are used to admiring every day the great bandits, whose wealth the whole world reveres with us and whose existence is shown, as soon as you examine it a little more closely, like a long crime renewed every day , but they enjoy the glory, the honors and the power, their misdeeds are consecrated by the laws, while however far we go back in history, everything shows us that a venial theft, and above all of poor food, such as loaf, ham or cheese invariably attracts formal opprobrium, the categorical excommunication of the community, the greatest punishments, automatic dishonor, inexpiable shame on the author, and this for two reasons, first of all because the perpetrator of such crimes is generally a poor man and this condition implies in itself a fundamental indignity and then because his gesture involves a sort of tacit reproach towards the community The theft of the poor becomes a malicious personal revenge. Thus the repression of the thieves from nothing is exercised at every latitude, with extreme rigor, not only as a means of social defense, but also and above all as a severe warning to all the unfortunates to have to stay in their place and in their caste, calmly, happily resigned to die, over the centuries and to infinity, of misery and hunger (...). It took me, like many others, twenty years and the war, to learn to stay in my category, to ask the price of things and beings, before taking them, and above all before attacking them. " A beautiful book, branded by most as a nihilist, but if by nihilism we mean emptying of meaning, canceling the essence of the feelings and moods that stir in us, in Journey towards the night, Céline following a self-critical path towards the deepest darkness of his soul, in fact it does not lead us to nothing, nor does it direct us on the path of denial, it makes us land instead where man's miseries, his needs, where his loneliness is born, and then the book is anything but nihilistic, rising to a crude statement of what man is. For Céline, the night is the night of man. One of the most important literary works of the twentieth century, a book that needs more than a single reading, it is so full of meanings and interpretations, an ironic novel, sometimes even comic and therefore dramatic, because nothing is more dramatic than human comedy. . Those who love reading cannot fail to read it.

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