Translated by Dominic di Bernardi
A major work by one of France’s most important authors of the twentieth century, London Bridge is a riotous novel about the London underworld during the First World War.
Picking up where its predecessor Guignol’s Band left off, Céline’s narrator recounts his disastrous partnership with an eccentric Frenchman intent on financing a trip to Tibet by winning a gas-mask competition; his uneasy relationship with London’s pimps and whores and their common nemesis, Inspector Matthew of Scotland Yard; and, most scandalous of all, his affair with a colonel’s daughter.
Written in Céline’s trademark style – a headlong rush of slang, brusque observation and quirky lyricism, delivered in machine-gun bursts of prose and ellipses – London Bridge recreates the dark days during the Great War with sordid verisimilitude and desperate hilarity.
If the French demand bad behaviour from their novelists, they got more than they bargained for with the antisemitic Céline. But they were also getting the prose stylist of the century.
The most blackly humorous and disenchanted voice in all of French literature
London Review of Books
Writing as alive as speech.
Simone de Beauvoir
Louis-Ferdinand Céline was one of the most controversial authors of the twentieth century, a writer who mixed realism with imaginative fantasy, and like his contemporary Henry Miller, an iconoclast who shocked and frightened many of his readers. Céline, the pen name of L.F. Destouches, was a doctor in poor Parisian districts whose experience of the misery and chicanery of the poor gave him a jaundiced view of humanity that he poured into prose that is comic as well as often frightening and obscene.