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Publisher's Summary

Louis-Ferdinand Celine's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every minute 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 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 listeners by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel's inevitable, sad conclusion.

©1952 Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Translation copyright 1983 by Ralph Manheim. Afterword copyright 2006 by William T. Vollmann (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Céline showed me that it was possible to convey things that had heretofore seemed inaccessible. " ( New York Times)

What listeners say about Journey to the End of the Night

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Miserable Ride with Cynic Supreme


"A cynic can chill and dishearten with a single word." Ralph Waldo Emerson

From Journey to the End of the Night:

The sadness of the world has different ways of getting to people, but it seems to succeed almost every time.

****

I cannot refrain from doubting that there exist any genuine realizations of our deepest character except war and illness, those two infinities of nightmare.


This 1932 novel follows the wayfarings of French antihero Ferdinand Bardamu in and after World War I through war-ravaged Europe, the African jungles and post-World War I New York City and Detroit, then back to France where he became an unsuccessful medical doctor after setting up a practice in a poverty-stricken Paris suburb. Celine's impetus to writing this book largely came from the trauma he suffered while serving in World War I. Celine was a continual and consistent cynic who no doubt loathed what he viewed as a society full of hypocrisy and folly.

The gloomy narrative is replete with vulgar slang, sardonic jocosity, incessant agonies and pessimism, with heavy use of exaggerations and ellipses to reflect the flow of Bardamu's dialogue. He seems preoccupied to the point of mania with, or to gaining serial self-gratifications by, ferociously hurling vituperations at society, human nature and life generally, and by vilifying all human institutions and Jews.

In short, Journey to the End of the Night, and each word of it, constitute the literary equivalent of dark chocolates for those seeking to maintain maximum melancholia and perfect a plenary pessimistic perspective.

A black cloud followed me for a week after reading this.


"A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin." H. L. Mencken


20 people found this helpful

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My first Celine

I'm going to be reading the rest of his novels. I made several bookmarks throughout this read because there were phrases and ideas I never want to forget. At times I was reminded of Bukowski and Kerouac but the author having probably inspired those two, certainly has a voice all his own.

9 people found this helpful

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Hysterical

Sarcastic, hysterical, black and beautifully insightful and narrated. I cannot imagine this book in a different, better voice.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Riotous, Political Incorrectness!!

If you are not a white man, this book might be too much for you, unless you have an open mind. Journey to the End of the Night is sexist and racist and amazing. I first heard about this book from another sexist writer, Charles Bukowski. Mr. Bukowski mentions Celine and this book in his book, Women. Every novel and every movie is politically incorrect. Have you ever watched a good movie that never used a curse word? Think about that. Am I a sexist and racist because I enjoyed this book? No. And, neither are you. Journey to the End of the Night is a R-rated romp through the early part of the 2oth Century. If you are sensitive, do not read it. Here, I will list some novels that I have read written by white men which use the N-word. Infinite Jest. Gravity's Rainbow. In Search of Lost Time. Ragtime. Huckleberry Finn. Gone With The Wind. And, many more that I just can't remember right now. Most of the time, the N-word is used in quotations and said by a character in the novel. If there ever comes a day when a writer is prevented from using certain works; well then, this is a horrible day!!! John Singleton can use the word in his move BoyzNTheHood, thus every writer should be allowed to use this word if he or she deems necessary to convey the scene. Journey to the End of the Night is packed with profane and perverted passages. For me, this book was about not letting the powers-that-be force you into a certain life. I say this as a political liberal, someone who has never voted republican, someone who detest Donald Trump. Nevertheless, I fully expect some ultra-liberal person to read this review and start a crusade against this book, even if this crusading person has never even read the book. This will be a sad day, and it is coming.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Performance of a great book

Colacci's rendition is cynical.and charming, seeming to perfectly capture the spirit of this work of genius, by the monstrous, depraved L-F Céline.

2 people found this helpful

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A meandering Plot!

Céline's _Journey to the End of the Night_ receives 3 stars from me. While I enjoyed the book, and thought the writing was fine, I found the meandering plot boring.

This was an audio book read by David Colacci. His reading is excellent. He captures the spirit of the character, good intonation through out. I'd buy another book read by him.

The book. For me the book was great while I was listening, but it didn't stick with me when I wasn't lisentening. I enjoyed it while I was listening, but didn't think about it much when I wasn't. When I'd return to it, I'd think this is really good, why am I not listening every night. Then I'd wake up and not think about it. The character is interesting but I'm not sure he grows much, and I feel that he has no clear direction. I think perhaps this is the author's idea, and he clearly does it well.

The plot, or lack there of, is what hurts the novel the most in my opinion. The character moves from scene to scene from thing to thing without much connection to each other. Then there is Robinson, who pops up all the time and is the one other character that binds the book together. I would have like to have realized what the central conflict of the novel was. Was it man learning about self, about death? What?

Recommended: as an audio book, yes. I think it is good enough to be entertaining. I found myself thinking as I listened, wow that's kind of deep. But then I'd forget about it later.

2 people found this helpful

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An Untimely confirmation.

I wish I'd finally read/listened to this in happier times. Too relatable. Too perfect.
Read it. Listen.
Just listen to him. (he wasn't antisemitic yet)

4 people found this helpful

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Classic absurdism

Celine's first novel reads like a fever dream of exquisite language. It deflty captures so much of life's absurdity and the meaningless nature of our search for meaning and purpose before we die.

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Good performance, but I wish it was a British or French narrator

The performer of the text was very good, I just heard more of a British tone in reading the text.

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I've never been so bored

This book is about 10% paper thin, meandering plot. The other 90% is musings on life and love from an author who isn't nearly as clever and insightful as he thinks he is.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Dez V
  • 08-18-18

Brilliant sardonic novel

A bleak view on humanity, written with great style and sarcasm. Have been a fan of this work for years anyway, particularly the version illustrated by Tardi

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-13-19

Listen to Celine

Hes the fucking one! Seriously. A huge influence on many of the greats. Read Celine!