Love letters by fascist and 'most influential writer' Celine sell in Belgium

One of the most influential writers of the 20th century is going under the hammer at Belgian auction house Salle des Ventes Michel Lhomme's Precious Books auction on January 22.

Personal letters written by none other than Louis-Ferdinand Céline, the French writer and medical doctor (pictured top right, real name Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, 1894-1961), will be among the sale's star lots.

Up for sale is a caché of unpublished letters to 18-year-old Bente Johansen (1945-1947) comprising 18 autographed letters, corrections and a 68 pages-long folio.

The notes were written while Céline was in exile after writing three typically cynical and anti-semitic books. The author fled from France to Sigmaringen, Germany, during the former's liberation from Nazi occupation.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline's letters to 18-year-old Bente Johansen

Though his writings were influential, developing a new writing style that modernised both French and World literature, Céline nevertheless remains controversial due to his fascist ideals. One book, 1936's Bagatelles pour un massacre, envisages the mass slaughter of Gentiles.

Michel Lhomme's lot notes don't specify if Céline's fascist leanings are evidence in his letters to Bente Johansen. Nevertheless, these letters are the only witness to the little known period of the writer's life during his exile - and could prove valuable on the auction block.

The lot, which also includes photographs from the period, will appear in the Belgium sale estimated at €20,000-25,000.


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