The novels of Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894–1961) convey his perception of the consequences of the decline of Christian belief and institutions in the twentieth century. Although his personal reaction to his culture's loss of its faith tradition verges on resignation, his vigorous exposé of human malevolence and existential anxiety echoes the classical Christian theological analysis of sin and separation from God. Céline's interrelationship of cultural analysis and religious judgment parallels the major contemporary theological voice of Paul Tillich (1886–1965), who was also very sensitive to the interdependency of theology and culture. Both men honestly and courageously strove to put a disintegrating world in dialogue with theological resources that the world has rejected and trivialized. Although Céline stood on the threshold of faith without crossing it, his literary legacy continues to recall contemporary theology to realistic encounter with the world.
The first chapter of this dissertation argues that Céline's exposition of the modern human situation invites a theological response. Tillich's "method of correlation" is introduced as this study's methodology. Chapter two shows Céline's vision of the modern world as impersonal, dark, random, and savage, resulting in human misery. Céline advocates humanitarian values to counteract evil instincts and surroundings. These values are examined in chapter three, as well as his bedeviling and antithetical anti-Semitic polemical writings. Chapter four presents Céline's pessimistic anthropology, which is essentially a rediscovery of the classical Christian concept of sin. Chapter five examines Céline's struggle with his inherited nihilistic presuppositions, through his presentation of their logical conclusion: a "law of the jungle" which he rejects. Chapters six, seven, and eight deal with Céline's use of Christian themes. He criticizes the Church, ruminates upon God and the devil, and frequently employs motifs such as confession, baptism, prayer, Hell, the Apocalypse, and redemption. The final chapter summarizes Céline's conversation with Christian concerns. It closes with testimonies of those who have been led to religious understanding and faith through Céline, and an insistence on his potential contribution to the ongoing development of contemporary theology.
|School Location:||United States -- Massachusetts|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/09, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Romance literature, Religion, Theology|
|Keywords:||Celine, Louis-Ferdinand, Christian, France, Theology of culture, Tillich, Paul, Voyage au Bout de la Nuit|
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