Books: Rage Against Life

DEATH ON THE INSTALLMENT PLAN by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, translated by Ralph Manheim. 592 pages. New Directions. $7.50.

For more than 30 years, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, who died in disgrace and obscurity in 1961, has been both a scandal and a paradox. This new translation of the second of his two black classics suggests that Death on the Installment Plan should be discovered by a new generation of readers—and reread by those still scandalized and baffled by Céline.

He was a demented anti-Semite, sentenced by a French court to "national degradation" as a Nazi collaborator. Reprieved but...

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