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Guignol’s Band de Louis-Ferdinand Céline
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Guignol’s Band (edició 1954)

de Louis-Ferdinand Céline

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
394551,216 (3.54)2
Céline's third novel, first published in 1944 but dealing with events taking place during the First World War, Guignol's Band follows the narrator's meanderings through London after he has been demobilized due to a war injury. The result is a frank, uncompromising, yet grotesquely funny portrayal of the English capital's seedy underworld, peopled by prostitutes, pimps and schemers. Often considered to be Céline's funniest work, Guignol's Band showcases its author's idiosyncratic style at its finest, frantically blending slang, invective, onomatopoeia with literary language, and bridging the gap between gritty realism and absurd mysticism.… (més)
Membre:NelsonAlgren
Títol:Guignol’s Band
Autors:Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Informació:New York: New Directions
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Guignol's band de Louis-Ferdinand Céline

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My fourth Céline and the first that hasn't entirely worked for me. Whereas North and Rigadoon found our crackpot autobiographer, old, tired and destitute, wandering WWII Europe or the apocalyptic aftermath of the allied victory, with or without his wife and faithful cat Bébert, fleeing French reprisals for his ill-advised collaboration, and Journey to the End of the Night was the misbegotten bildungsroman of the misanthrope's misanthrope, Guignol's Band has no discernible theme or through-line. It's a series of vignettes from Céline's (or "Ferdinand's") time holed-up in London during the first war, having been invalided out of the French trenches and washed up in an expat underworld of war-shirking pimps, pawnbrokers and petty criminals. His friend Boro has a grenade fetish and blows up the local boozer; chief pimp Cascade presides over a West End brothel staffed by the abandoned wives and girlfriends of Frenchmen at the front. There's a hallucinogenic carouse at the home/shop of a queer pawnbroker which ends badly for all, and finally after having a breakdown at the French consulate and pleading unsuccessfully to be sent back to war, Ferdinand goes in on a get-rich-quick gas-mask scheme with some sort of French-Chinese chancer. And, er, that's it.

But still, it's Céline, and no one exclaims, ellipsifies, or onomatopoeiases — no one else writes like him, and you don't read him for the plot. Here are the London docks:

"After the strings of houses, after the unvarying streets through which I gently accompany you, the walls rise up... the warehouses, all-brick giant ramparts... Treasure cliffs!... Monster shops... phantasmagoric storehouses, citadels of merchandise, mountains of tanned goatskins enough to stink all the way to Kamchatka! Forest of mahogany in thousands of piles, tied up like asparagus, in pyramids, miles of materials! Rugs enough to cover the moon, the whole world... all the floors in the universe! Enough sponges to dry up the Thames! What quantities!... Enough wool to smother Europe beneath heaps of cuddly warmth... Herrings to fill the seas! Himalayas of powdered sugar... Matches to fry the poles!... Enormous avalanches of pepper, enough to make the Seven Floods sneeze!... A thousand boatloads of onions, enough to cry through five hundred wars... Three thousand six hundred trains of beans drying in covered hangars more colossal than the Charing Cross, Nord and Saint-Lazare stations put together... Coffee for the whole planet!... Enough to give a lift during their forced marches to the four hundred thousand avenging conflicts of the fightingest armies in the world... never again sitting, snoring, exempt from sleep and eating, hypertense, storming, exalted, dying in the charge, hearts unfolded, borne off to superdeath by the hyperpalpitating superglory of powdered coffee!... The dream of the three hundred fifteen emperors!..."

Here's early jazz:

"It's a treat rolled off by a pianist who knows zum! Pim! Wham! The heart of things!... Who knows how to get at it, merciless! To take command, cruelly, right from the start... to pack the theme in!... To carry way... and yoop! And zoom!... Zim! Keep moving, trills! And chords!... Shake it, scales and sharps galore! Waves all screwball!... It's tough!... It's masterful!... Puffy!... The spell of technique!..."

And here's part of the eight-page Zeppelin raid that opens the novel:

"Rraap!... Whah!... Rraango!... Whah!... Rroong!... That's about the noise made by a real molten torpedo... the most enormous! In the heart of a black and green volcano!... What a burst of fire!... Another bomb grazing us! Goes exploding right into the current... The blast rocks us... Your guts all ripped out... Your heart popping into your mouth!... Palpitating like a rabbit... What shame, shitting with fright... crawling... under the ammunition trucks with three... four... five legs all wound up... Arms everywhere all mixed up... smashed, melted into jitters! Into a pulp of panic-mad slugs everyone for himself!... Sunk, wallowing, hiccuping, you come to, tossing in the air, ripped apart, shrunk, shot the hell away! Head over heels! It's a motor about to catch fire!... We scale a mountain of wounded... Thick groans beneath our feet!... They puke... We're lucky! It's a favour!... We emerge! Groggy, smiling..."

It's exhausting being Céline. ( )
  yarb | Oct 21, 2021 |
""
  rouzejp | Sep 2, 2015 |
Description des milieux interlopes et marginaux de Londres. Ces aventures londoniennes ne figurent pas dans ##Voyage au bout de la nuit##. Elles auraient pris place entre les épisodes de guerre et ceux qui se déroulent en Afrique.
  PierreYvesMERCIER | Feb 19, 2012 |
Brilliant dustjacket - pity it is torn.
  jon1lambert | Oct 12, 2008 |
I started this book ages ago and am really glad that I started over again from the beginning instead of picking up where I left off. Despite Celine's politics, this is an interesting look at the seamy side of life during wartime. And it's written in a really innovative way. ( )
  h3athrow | Mar 30, 2008 |
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Céline's third novel, first published in 1944 but dealing with events taking place during the First World War, Guignol's Band follows the narrator's meanderings through London after he has been demobilized due to a war injury. The result is a frank, uncompromising, yet grotesquely funny portrayal of the English capital's seedy underworld, peopled by prostitutes, pimps and schemers. Often considered to be Céline's funniest work, Guignol's Band showcases its author's idiosyncratic style at its finest, frantically blending slang, invective, onomatopoeia with literary language, and bridging the gap between gritty realism and absurd mysticism.

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