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Journey to the End of the Night (1932)

by Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,482701,533 (4.18)169
Louis-Ferdinand C line's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every page of this novel. Filled with slang and obscenities and written in raw, colloquial language, Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism. This book shocked most critics when it was first published in France in 1932, but quickly became a success with the reading public in Europe, and later in America, where it was first published by New Directions in 1952. The story of the improbable yet convincingly described travels of the petit-bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu, from the trenches of World War I, to the African jungle, to New York and Detroit, and finally to life as a failed doctor in Paris, takes the readers by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel's inevitable, sad conclusion.… (more)
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» See also 169 mentions

English (40)  French (10)  Dutch (8)  Italian (4)  Hebrew (2)  Catalan (2)  Finnish (1)  Swedish (1)  Polish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (70)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Well, in Amazon's typical automatic pilot style, this was listed as by "Ralph Manheim" so I corrected that. C'mon Amazon. 'fess up, you hire monkeys to type in the data & hope for the best. Anyway, I've read 3 Céline novels, this is the earliest, his 1st, & probably the best. What little I remember of it is that it was harsh international social realism. What a surprise when he later became a partial nazi sympathizer! ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
It's taken me a long time to get around to reviewing this book. It is such a sprawling novel, with so many great passages, that I felt I had to write a review that did it justice. As I was reading, it was easy to see how Celine influenced the great Charles Bukowski, for instance. But where would I start with a review? There is squalor, there is crime, there is war, there are so many things here, and only at times does it drag even a little. The protagonist, Ferdinand, seemingly for no good reason enlists in the French Army for World War I, where at one point he runs into Léon, who he is unable to avoid for the rest of the book, which at times it more about Léon than about Ferdinand. Léon's loves, Léon's murder plots, and so on. Even when Ferdinand goes to America and works for a while in Detroit, he still runs into Léon. In any case, this is not a book about plot, although there is more than enough going on--French colonial Africa (Léon again), an insane asylum (actually one of the more upbeat parts of the book), and lots of poverty and ill-advised journeys. It is really Ferdinand's observations about all of this that are the center of the book and provide the most pleasure in reading it. I have the follow-up, Death on the Installment Plan, on my shelf ready to go, as soon as I have some uninterrupted days available to enjoy it. Maybe I can manage to write a real review for it! ( )
1 vote datrappert | Dec 25, 2021 |
A real smiler :) ( )
  skankstank64 | Dec 14, 2021 |
I've never really thought of myself as a Person Who Has Opinions About French Literature, so maybe it was for the best that I didn't have a strong reaction to this story about a guy experiencing the first part of the 20th century, which is stereotypically French to the point of sounding like that Existential Star Wars youtube. Still, I was glad I read it, if only for some of the Sartre-lite aphorisms Céline tosses in. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
A tragic and perspicacious account of life’s absurd mundanity. Has its dry moments, but on the whole contains a number of thoughtful, if not poetic, philosophical bits, great character development and leaves you with some scenic memories to boot. ( )
  mitchanderson | Jan 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (49 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Céline, Louis-Ferdinandprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dubuffet, JeanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kummer, E.Y.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manheim, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mannerkorpi, JukkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marks, John H. P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tardi, JacquesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vidal-Folch, EstanislauTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vollmann, William T.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Our life is a journey through winter and night we look for our way in a sky without light. (Song of the Swiss Guards 1793)

Travel is useful, it exercises the imagination. All the rest is disappointment and fatigue. Our journey is entirely imaginary. That is its strength.

It goes from life to death. People, animals, cities, things, all are imagined. It's a novel, just a fictitious narrative. Littre says so, and he's never wrong.

And besides, in the first place, anyone can do as much. You just have to close your eyes.

It's on the other side of life.
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À Elisabeth Craig
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Louis-Ferdinand C line's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every page of this novel. Filled with slang and obscenities and written in raw, colloquial language, Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism. This book shocked most critics when it was first published in France in 1932, but quickly became a success with the reading public in Europe, and later in America, where it was first published by New Directions in 1952. The story of the improbable yet convincingly described travels of the petit-bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu, from the trenches of World War I, to the African jungle, to New York and Detroit, and finally to life as a failed doctor in Paris, takes the readers by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel's inevitable, sad conclusion.

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