There is an unknown novel among the papers looted 77 years ago from the Parisian house of the author of ‘Journey to the End of the Night’ / Gallimard could publish the texts of the anti-Semitic and Philonazi author who will guard the National Library of France
Almost eighty years after being stolen, thousands of pages come to light by the French writer and physician Louis-Ferdinand Céline, author of the legendary novel ‘Journey to the End of Night’. A prominent collaborator, anti-Semite and Phil-Nazi, when Céline fled from Paris to Germany the papers that now emerge, mostly unpublished, were stolen from her Parisian flat in Montmartre. Among them there is an unknown novel and perhaps three other unpublished books that Gallimard could publish.
The newspaper ‘Le Monde’ anticipated the historic discovery of the papers, whose authenticity has been recognized by the National Library of France (BNF), which will guard the manuscripts at the wish of the writer’s heirs.
Highlights the recovery of an unknown novel entitled ‘London’, set in the First World War, and of ‘Casse-pipe’ (‘Cannon fodder’), a work of which only one chapter published in a magazine was known in the years forty. This last story, also on a war theme, would complete the autobiographical trilogy that make up ‘Journey to the End of the Night’ (1932) and ‘Death on Credit’ (1936), the two iconic novels by Louis-Ferdinand Auguste Destouches (Courbevoive, 1894 -Paris, 1961), Céline for the world of letters.
Among the manuscripts were found several versions other than those published of ‘Muerte on credit’ and ‘Guignol’s Band’ (1943), in addition to literary and biographical documents that open new perspectives on the work and the figure of Céline, one of the most important novelists of the French letters of the 20th century.
The manuscripts were in the possession of Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, theater critic and former journalist for the daily ‘Libération’. Thibaudat assures that the papers were delivered to him fifteen years ago by a mysterious donor with one condition: not to make them public before the death of Céline’s widow, Lucette Destouches, who died at the age of 107, at the end of 2019.
“Many years ago, a reader of ‘Libération’ called me and said that he wanted to give me some documents. On the day of the appointment, she arrived with huge bags containing handwritten sheets. They were in Céline’s handwriting. He gave them to me on one condition: not to make them public before the death of Lucette Destouches, because, being on the left, he did not want to ‘enrich’ the writer’s widow “, Thibaudat explained to ‘Le Monde’.
Thibaudat received a mountain of documents, almost a cubic meter of paper. There were thousands of pages “that took me months to order.” These were the originals and documents that were stolen from the Parisian address occupied by the writer and his wife on the rue Girardon until June 1944 and from which they fled due to the threat posed to the marriage by the liberation of Paris, which would arrive on the 25th of August of that year.
Amnestied in 1951, Céline was able to return to France after several years in exile in Denmark. He himself denounced the theft of his papers, but all the investigations to recover them were unsuccessful. The writer denounced that they had also stolen an extensive manuscript entitled ‘The will of King Krogold’, practically unpublished, and that it would appear among the recovered papers, among other short stories, letters and photographs.
Céline blamed the looting of the resistant Corsican of Jewish origin Oscar Rosembly, who would have violated his Parisian home after the liberation of the French capital and took the manuscripts that have remained hidden for 77 years. Rosembly, tried in September 1944 for “dishonest acts”, was charged with other robberies and spent time in prison and escaped to the United States.
Céline died in 1961 in Meudon, near Paris, where she continued to receive young writers for whom she was a reference. A part of his manuscripts will go to the BNF funds, which has recognized the authorship and originality of the texts, among which there would be up to four books that could be published by Gallimard, editor of the rest of the controversial author’s work.
The heirs of Céline, her biographer and lawyer François Gibault and Véronique Chovin, Lucette’s friend, who considered denouncing Thibaudat, have announced that they will donate the original ‘Death on credit’ manuscript to BNF to be safeguarded together with the ‘Trip at the end of the night. ‘