11 April 2012

No Poses, Sentimentalities, or Bromides

Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), p. 239:
The one writer who does not appeal at all to Americans -- who offers nothing for our Marxist, Freudian, feminist, deconstructionist, or structuralist critics to mangle, who provides no poses, sentimentalities or bromides that appeal to our young -- is Louis-Ferdinand Céline, who best expresses how life looks to a man facing up to what we believe or don't believe. He is a far more talented artist and penetrating observer than the much more popular Mann or Camus. Robinson, the hero he admires in Journey to the End of the Night, is an utterly selfish liar, cheat, murderer for pay. Why does Ferdinand admire him? Partly for his honesty, but mostly because he allows himself to be shot and killed by his girlfriend rather than tell her he loves her. He believes in something, which Ferdinand is unable to do. American students are repelled, horrified by this novel, and turn away from it in disgust. If it could be force-fed to them, it might motivate them to reconsider, to regard it as urgent to think through their premises, to make their implicit nihilism explicit and examine it seriously.