A French publishing house that had resisted calls to drop publication of a famous author’s antisemitic screeds announced that it has suspended the project.
Editions Gallimard announced on Thursday the suspension of its plan to publish three Holocaust-era essays by the author Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, also known as Céline.
“The methodological and commemorative conditions were not met to complete the project satisfactorily,” Antoine Gallimard, the president of the prestigious publishing house, told AFP.
The plan to publish the essays – “A Bagatelle for a Massacre,” “The School of Corpses” and “Beautiful Sheets” prompted vocal protests by the CRIF umbrella organisation of French Jewish communities – the country’s EJC affiliate – which called the texts “racist, antisemitic and pro-Hitler.”
Frédéric Pottier, the French government’s envoy for dealing with antisemitism, wrote a letter last month to Antoine Gallimard, the publishing house’s president, expressing “concern” over the plan to publish the essays “in a context where the scourge of antisemitism must be fought more forcefully than ever before.”
Céline, a physician and open supporter of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, published the much-acclaimed “Journey to the End of the Night” in 1932 about his experiences fighting in World War I.
Later, reviled and detested in his native France for his support of the Nazi occupation, Céline left for Germany and Denmark after France was liberated. He returned in 1951, a decade before he died.
In one of the 176 pages that comprise “Beautiful sheets,” Celine writes: “More Jews than ever before on the street, more Jews than ever before in the press, more Jews than ever before on the bar, more Jews than ever before at the Sorbonne, more Jews than ever before in medicine, more Jews than ever before in theater, in the opera, in industry, the banks. Paris, France more than ever before ceded to the masons and Jews, more insolent than ever before.”
According to Le Parisien, Celine’s 105-year-old widow, Lucette Destouches, who holds the copyright for the essays, for decades had opposed allowing the publication in France of her late husband’s antisemitic essays but recently has had a change of heart.