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Posted October 17, 2000
Celine is a tough guy to understand. However, with proper insight in Celine's personal life, one will find clues to his writing, which is always partly autobiographical. Guignol's Band unfolds at the time of the first world war in London's underworld, city spared by the ravages of war and among others, a refuge for dubious elements and men fleeing from their past. My thought right from the start was that Guignol's Band is not one of Celine's greatest hits. The truncated phrases, specific to Celine, don't make things easier but nevertheless this novel offers certain elements that capture attention. If this is the first Celine novel you read, prepare to be provoked, maybe loathed. Celine mingles with the scum of the earth; thugs, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and criminals and he seems to understand them. He's not very high on the social scale himself but Celine is not an ignorant. His insight in a corrupt and decomposing society is paradoxical with the world he finds himself living in. Nevertheless, he manages somehow to distance himself and is able of a clear introspection and mordant criticism of the greatest follies of them all: war. Celine empties his bag of revulsion, frustration and disappointment at a world that is far less than perfect. His disgust just oozes through all the pores, infecting, choking, shocking. Is he just describing what he sees or is everything an expression of his profound hatred, and acute cynicism stemming from his own truly miserable childhood and adult failures? If you really wish to read a representative work by Celine, try 'Journey to the End of the Night' and 'Death on the Installment Plan'. After reading that, you'll surely be able to see Guignol's Band in a different light, maybe better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.