Synopses & Reviews
Often comic and always angry, the first-person autobiographical narrator, with his wife and their cat in tow, takes the reader with him on his flight from Paris to Denmark after finding himself on the losing side of World War II. The train rides that encompass the novel are filled with madness and mercy, as Céline, a physician, aids refugees while ignoring his own medical needs.
Céline's inventive style and black humor profoundly influenced many writers who came after him, including Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski. As Kurt Vonnegut states in his introduction to this edition, "[Céline] demonstrated that perhaps half of all experience, the animal half, had been concealed by good manners. No honest writer or speaker will ever want to be polite again."
"Céline quite deliberately makes us feel the inescapable, mind-rotting horror of endless chaos, the fact of war as Americans have never known it." Washington Post Book World
"Céline's explosive language and style is the very sign of his experience: its full impact explodes, as if by delayed reaction, before the eyes, and in the consciousness, of author, narrator, and reader alike." Times Literary Supplement
"Lit with a flash of frighteningly lucid prophecy, and seen to be nothing less than the doom of the human race. . . . But what is oddest of all about Rigadoon, and what distinguishes it from Céline's other work, is its sense of peace, almost of consummation, at the sight of a Europe in rubble and flames." The New York Times Book Review
"More than most modern authors, [Céline is] able to plunge directly into the burning center, where Europe, in rage and anguish, is tearing itself apart. In so doing, he captures the heat and energy of he final holocaust better than almost anyone." The Nation
"Manheim’s translation succeeds in capturing the powerful immediacy of Céline’s prose." Library Journal
Completed right before his death in 1961, Rigadoon, the most compassionate of Céline's novels, explores the ravages of war and its aftermath.
About the Author
Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961) was a French writer and doctor whose novels are antiheroic visions of human suffering. Accused of collaboration with the Nazis, Céline fled France in 1944 first to Germany and then to Denmark. Condemned by default (1950) in France to one year of imprisonment and declared a national disgrace, Céline returned to France after his pardon in 1951, where he continued to write until his death. His classic books include Journey to the End of the Night, Death on the Installment Plan, London Bridge, North, Rigadoon, Conversations with Professor Y, Castle to Castle, and Normance.Ralph Manheim (1907-1992) was an American translator of German and French literature, as well as occasional works from Dutch, Polish and Hungarian. The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, a major lifetime achievement award in the field of translation. is named in honor of Manheim and his work.