In this novel, Louis-Ferdinand Celine (Journey to the End of the Night, Death on the Installment Plan) offers us a vivid chronicle of a desperate man's frantic flight from France in the final months of World War II. Accompanied by his wife, their cat, and an actor friend, our autobiographical narrator Ferdinand leaves Paris for Baden-Baden (a World War II hideaway for wealthy Germans), is then sent to a bombed-out Berlin, and finally leaves for Denmark in search of the gold he had stashed there prior to the war. With the Third Reich in ruins and the Allied armies on Ferdinand's heels, North combines documentary realism with hallucinatory images, capturing the chaos of war and its toll on both victim and victimizer.
Celine, for all his garrulous ranting, was one of the most important voices in modern French fiction, and his influence on American as well as French novelists cannot be underestimated. [North] has already received favorable criticism in this country, and this excellent translation will undoubtedly increase Celine's public here.
Well worth reading by any student of the last days of the German Reich.
North slams across our imminent fin-de-siecle pieties as a raw and dangerous abomination . . . Simply as the tale of a picaresque ordeal . . . North is fascinating and fizzy, but what makes it so potent as a document is the 'remarkable sensibility' that Gide commended. The prose has a dense inconsecutiveness brought about in part by Celine's favorite device of the three dots . . . (which both invite you on and trip you up), but also by his flair for letting his imagination range further than his analytical mind wants to go.