Death on Credit  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Death on Credit, (original French title: Mort à crédit), (US translation: Death on the Installment Plan ), is a novel by author Louis-Ferdinand Céline, published in 1936.

In Death on Credit, Ferdinand Bardamu, Céline's alter ego, is a doctor in Paris, treating the poor who seldom pay him but take every advantage of his availability. The action is not continuous but goes back in time to earlier memories and often moves into fantasy, especially in Bardamu's sexual escapades; the style becomes deliberately rougher and sentences disintegrate to catch the flavour of the teeming world of everyday Parisian tragedies, struggles to make a living, illness, venereal disease, the sordid stories of families whose destiny is governed by their own stupidity, malice, lust and greed.

Though often off-putting due to its idiosyncrasies and apparent redundancies, the novel is often considered among Celine's fans as his most accomplished work. It offers a profound vision of the nature of individual human existence: rooted in suffering and inertia. The antiheroic genius of Bardamu's search for a livable life in 20th century Paris forms a direct literary metaphor for modern humanity: to search and search again for happiness and meaning in a complex world and to often come up empty. Or more precisely: to find words, stories, experiences, and ideas that stretch the boundaries of consciousness while providing little or no structure with which to assign any meaning to life as a whole. Life becomes merely a subjective personal experience in the midst of madness and savagery: beautiful in itself but with overtones of profound suffering and a lack of moral prerogatives, and at the mercy of the strange human forces that are both within and without. We become our own history, and our own suffering, and as such we live: accumulating the pain, confusion, and death that life allows us to have on installment. Even if only for right now.

John Dolan, a popular cult critic for the eXile newspaper irreverently singles the novel out as a unique and important work in an online review.

"This is it: the finest novel of the century. Journey to the End of the Night is for wimps; the English-language novelists are prep-school showoffs. This is it: the hard core, the key text of the century."

The novel is referenced in the autobiographical first chapter of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five as well as Anthony Swofford's Jarhead



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Death on Credit" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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