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Death on the Installment Plan (ND Paperbook) Paperback – January 17, 1971
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About the Author
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Plot (yes, there is one...kinda):
The book begins with a grown Bardamu, practicing medicine in the suburbs of Paris. Soon the action flashes back to his childhood, which is what the rest of the book is about. Like Journey, this book follows the narrator as he moves around to various destinations, including a number of apprenticeships in Paris, boarding school in England, and a farm. There are developed characters besides Bardamu; there are his parents, his uncle, and (best of all) a crazy Inventor who takes young Bardamu under his wing.
It was Bukowski who pointed me towards Celine. He praised Journey, but he said nothing about Death. Death was unavailable to me, and after I was done with Journey I tried to read Guignol's Band. I couldn't read it though due to the frequent incoherent streamofconscious rants (and perhaps because it wasn't a Manheim Translation). But then I moved and found Death on Credit (same...Credit is just the UK title, whereas it's installment plan in US), read it, and liked it even better than Journey. There are one or two short parts of surreal/hallucinatory sequences. Even those are short; 98% of the book I would describe as concrete events written coherently.
Celine has changed his style a little with his second book. Ellipses are used much more often here than they were in Journey. But I found this to work quite well, both in terms of readability, and in terms of emulating actual speech and thoughts. Also, there are no chapters in Death.Read more ›
You would have to write a book longer than Celine's novel to do any justice to analyzing it. Thus I was shocked to find the Wikipedia article about this book was about five sentences long. I dropped what I was doing and spouted off a slightly-edited paragraph about the themes of the novel. It's a flawed and cursory view of a book that is difficult to put into words, but I'll offer it here.
"It offers a profound vision of the nature of individual human existence: rooted in loneliness, pettiness, and inertia. The antiheroic genius of Bardamu's search for a livable life in early 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 oftentimes 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 as such we live: accumulating the pain, happiness, confusion, and death that life allows us to have on installment. Even if it will all be repossessed at the end, when it becomes less than a dream. And that is a moment we all live for."
The modern world belongs to Celine.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I got sick of this book about 200 pages into it and put it down. It was a couple months before I forced myself to pick it up again and finish the final 400 pages. Read morePublished 1 month ago by S. Clark
One of my top ten favorite novels. Reads wonderfully with the famous typographical fetish of the humble ellipsis. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book covers his early life. I suggest, reading Journey first, as I believe he wrote it first. His spirit comes through despite the struggles of the times. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Kunut Hamsun
What a strange and strangely written book - I love it! Celine is in a class by himself.Published 6 months ago by Kaytee
Not for everyone. Best read between the ages of 15 and 25. If you think the book is going to be full of all kinds of anti-semiticaca and proto-fascistic bile, forget it. Read morePublished 7 months ago by margot
Like nothing else you have ever read. A lacerating work of genius. A dark and brutal "coming of age" novel - par excellence! Read morePublished 9 months ago by An Avid Reader
Bought this for my boyfriend so he could have the same existential crisis and fear of humanity that I do. So far so good.Published 18 months ago by A the Cat Lady
Incredible book by a spun man. He wore me out - he is relentlessly intense - but I couldn't put it down.Published 18 months ago by Jennifer Booth
Read Celine in my youth and still re-reading. "Mort a Credit" is not as conceptually bright as "Journey," 1934, but it is still, despite being a bit dated, (1936),... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jim