- Journey to the End of the Night
infobox Book |
name = Journey to the End of the Night
title_orig = Voyage au bout de la nuit
translator = John H. P. Marks (1934),
language = French
release_date = 1932
Journey to the End of the Night ("Voyage au bout de la nuit", 1932) is the first novel of
Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work follows antihero Ferdinand Bardamuthrough his involvement in World War I, colonial Africa, and post-WWI America (where he works for the Ford Motor Company), returning in the second half of the work to France, where he becomes a medical doctor and sets up a practice in a poor Paris suburb, the fictional La Garenne-Rancy. The novel also satirizes the medical profession and the vocation of scientific research. The disparate elements of the work are linked together by recurrent encounters with Léon Robinson, a hapless character whose experiences parallel, to some extent, those of Bardamu.
As its title suggests, "Voyage au bout de la nuit" is a dark,
nihilistic novel of savage, exultant misanthropy, leavened, however, with an ebulliently cynical humour. Céline expresses an almost unrelieved pessimismwith regard to human nature, human institutions, society, and life in general. Towards the end of the book, the narrator Bardamu, who is working at an insane asylum, remarks:
Céline's first novel is perhaps most remarkable for its style. Céline makes extensive use of
ellipsisand hyperbole. He also writes with the flow of natural speech patterns and writes in vernacular, while also employing more erudite elements. This influenced French literature considerably. The novel enjoyed popular success and a fair amount of critical acclaim when it was published in October 1932. Albert Thibaudet, perhaps the greatest of the "entre-deux-guerres" critics, said that in January 1933 it was still a common topic of conversation at dinner parties in Paris (Henri Godard, "Notice," in Céline, "Romans", vol. 1 [Paris: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1981] , p. 1262).
Influence and legacy
Kurt Vonnegutcited "Journey" as one of his influences in "Palm Sunday", and Bardamu's misadventures appear to have influenced Joseph Heller's " Catch-22". Charles Bukowskimakes reference to "Journey" in a number of his novels and short stories, and employs prose techniques borrowed from Céline. Bukowski once said that "Journey to the End of the Night was the best book written in the last two thousand years." The Doors song "End of the Night" references Céline's work.
Jacques Tardiillustrated a 1988 edition with 130 drawings.
*cite book | last = Céline | first = Louis-Ferdinand | coauthors = Manheim, Ralph (translator) | title = Journey to the End of the Night | publisher = New Directions | location = New York | year = 1983 | isbn = 9780811208475
*cite book | last = Céline | first = Louis-Ferdinand | coauthors = Manheim, Ralph (translator) | title = Journey to the End of the Night | publisher = Calder | location = London | year = 1988 | isbn = 9780714541396
*cite book | last = Sturrock | first = John | title = Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Journey to the End of the Night | publisher = Cambridge University Press | location = Cambridge | year = 1990 | isbn = 0521378540
*cite book | last = Céline | first = Louis-Ferdinand | title = Journey to the End of the Night | coauthors = Vollman, William T. (afterword); Manheim, Ralph (translator) | publisher = New Directions | location = New York | year = 2006 | isbn = 9780811216548
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