The discovery of unpublished manuscripts by Louis-Ferdinand Céline, unveiled in early August, was a shock, both in the literary world that within the editorial staff of Libé. And seemed to open an editorial battle between the rights holders of the author of journey to the Edge of the Night and the ex-journalist of Release Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, discoverer of these yellowed pages, who had remained silent for 15 years. In this context, Antoine Gallimard, president of the publishing house of the same name, assured AFP last Friday that he intended to play his role of “exclusive editor” of Celine’s literary work.

“Céline attached such importance to these manuscripts”, recalls the editor about these texts stolen from the Parisian apartment of the writer during the liberation of France, that “Gallimard must play the role which has always been the his since 1951, in accordance with the author’s wish: the exclusive publisher of his literary work. We will not be missed, both out of enthusiasm and out of duty. “

A treasure

Some 6,000 unpublished pages were recovered at the end of July, from the premises of the Central Office for the Fight against Trafficking in Cultural Goods (OCBC) in Nanterre, by the beneficiaries of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, whose real name is Louis-Ferdinand Destouches (1894-1961 ), and his widow, Lucette Destouches, who died in 2019. The existence of these documents and their incredible journey were made public in early August by The world. They had been kept for 15 years by Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, drama critic and former journalist of Libé, who claims to have been given them by one of his readers whose identity he has not revealed.

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“I am very reassured that such a treasure has finally been entrusted to the beneficiaries,” said Antoine Gallimard. It is a real guarantee, as much for the conservation as for the publication and the development of the manuscripts. “

“We would find [notamment] among the 1000 unpublished pages the text of one of his major novels, Pipe breaker […], correspondence with [l’écrivain collaborationniste] Robert Brasillach », explained to Libé Philippe Roussin, Céline specialist.

While the publishing world, researchers and specialists, wonders about the future of these texts, Antoine Gallimard recalls the “priority given to [sa] publishing house for the publication of any unpublished writing to come ”in a contract signed with the widow of the sulphurous author after his death. Philippe Roussin considers that “it is essential that these texts be published, and if they are not fully published, that the manuscripts be accessible to the public”.

Impatience

While “a new moment in this editorial history is opening”, the president of Gallimard editions said he was “very impatient to see [sa] house welcome new editions of these found pages ”. “Editing is also a matter of patience. The work must be carried out very scrupulously ”, he underlined before specifying that“ we will be able to take into account both the legitimate interest of the readers and the recommendations of the scientific community ”.

The publishing work to which the Gallimard house stands ready will be carried out, says the editor, “to the extent of course that the author’s beneficiaries, with whom we have the best relations, will have informed us of their OK “. Contacted by AFP, they mentioned a possible meeting at the beginning of September with the publisher.

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With Agence France-Presse

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