Journey to the End of the Night cover

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Journey to the End of the Night

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Journey to the End of the Night (Voyage au bout de la nuit, 1932) is the first novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work describes antihero Ferdinand Bardamu. Bardamu is involved with World War I, colonial Africa, and post–World War I United States (where he works for the Ford Motor Company), returning in the second half of the novel to France, where he becomes a medical doctor and establishes 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, Bardamu's experiences. Voyage au bout de la nuit is a nihilistic novel of savage, exultant misanthropy, combined, however, with cynical humour. Céline expresses an almost unrivaled pessimism with 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: …I cannot refrain from doubting that there exist any genuine realizations of our deepest character except war and illness, those two infinities of nightmare,(…je ne peux m'empêcher de mettre en doute qu'il existe d'autres véritables réalisations de nos profonds tempéraments que la guerre et la maladie, ces deux infinis du cauchemar,) A clue to understanding Céline's Voyage lies in the trauma he suffered during his experience in World War I. This is revealed in a study of biographical and literary research on Céline, histories of the war, diaries of his cavalry regiment, and literature on the trauma of war. Céline's experience of the war leads to "…the obsession, the recurrent anguish, the refusal, the delirium, the violence, the pacifism, the anti-Semitic aberration of the 30s, [and] his philosophy of life …."
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original title: Voyage au bout de la nuit
date of publication: 1932
genre: war novel, autobiographical novel
main subject: World War I
narrative location: Paris

Ebooks: on Wikisource

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