Journey to the End of the Night

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline,Ralph Manheim
New Directions Publishing, -4712-01-01
Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline,Ralph Manheim
Ryan Melogy over 2 years ago
Today there’s no such thing as a soldier unworthy to bear arms and, above all, to die under arms and by arms … They’re going, latest news, to make a hero out of me! … How imperious the homicidal madness must have become if they’re willing to pardon—no, to forget!—the theft of a can of meat! True, we have got into the habit of admiring colossal bandits, whose opulence is revered by the entire world, yet whose existence, once we stop to examine it, proves to be one long crime repeated ad infinitum, but those same bandits are heaped with glory, honors, arid power, their crimes are hallowed by the law of the land, whereas, as far back in history as the eye can see—and history, as you know, is my business— everything conspires to show that a venial theft, especially of inglorious foodstuffs, such as bread crusts, ham, or cheese, unfailingly subjects its perpetrator to irreparable opprobrium, the categoric condemnation of the community, major punishment, automatic dishonor, and inexpiable shame, and this for two reasons, first because the perpetrator of such an offense is usually poor, which in itself connotes basic unworthiness, and secondly because his act implies, as it were, a tacit reproach to the community. A poor man’s theft is seen as a malicious attempt at individual redress … Where would we be? Note accordingly that in all countries the penalties for petty theft are extremely severe, not only as a means of defending society, but also as a stern admonition to the unfortunate to know their place, stick to their caste, and behave themselves, joyfully resigned to go on dying of hunger and misery down through the centuries for ever and ever …