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The Long Voyage

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  366 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
The Long Voyage is Jorge Semprún’s devastatingly honest and heartbreaking account of a young Spaniard captured fighting with the French Resistance, and the days and nights he spends in the company of 119 other men, in a cattle truck that rolls slowly but inexorably towards Buchenwald. During the seemingly endless journey, he has conversations that range from his childhood ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by The Overlook Press (first published 1963)
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Jan 06, 2013 knig rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
A pattern formeth. Word association everyone: I say ‘war’. Vonegutt says train

So does Enard.

now Semprun.


Is it a bird?

Is it a plane?

No, its a literary device.

What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?

A train, of course.

How to condense something as big as the Big Bang into a nutshell? If it were Shakespeare, we have:

If it were a war, then start real little: the flutter of an eyelid, the ricochet of a sigh, the gossamer feel of touc
Feb 27, 2016 [P] rated it really liked it
Whenever something terrible happens – the Paris attacks, a school shooting, or whatever – people invariably express their shock and surprise, and I always feel slightly bewildered by this kind of reaction, because, although I could not possibly have foreseen these specific events, I am nevertheless profoundly not shocked nor surprised [although I am, of course, deeply saddened by them]. Human history, and my own experiences to a lesser extent, has taught me that we are capable of, that we active ...more
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
I confess I had never heard of Jorge Semprun, a prominent Spanish writer, politician and former government minister, until I picked up The Long Voyage (Le grand voyage), an autobiographical novel based upon his experiences in the Second World War. The voyage itself, a train journey, is the framework around which this astonishing narrative is constructed, as the author moves back through memory to times past and times future, always returning to a times present, a cattle truck packed full of men, ...more
Jun 20, 2010 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: shoah
We were not there. One has to bypass Adorno. Acknowledging that, a sensual inventory of the Shoah becomes an imperative. Fatelessness is an example of such, as is this. It is a challenge. Semprun achieves the act, the consummation. Suggestions wilt, cower and abandon. He perseveres.

We do not know. Semprun relates, he apprehends, he fashions the verse from ash and yields a chuckle as gratuity.
I'll not be giving this book a star-rating, because it's impossible to rate. On the one hand, the writing is very meandering and confusing, which makes the book very hard to read. On the other hand, it's a first-hand account of a concentration-camp survivor, which makes this book important.

It is the first such book that I have read, so I do not know if I would recommend it - there may be other such books that are easier to read. But I will say that I recommend reading some first-hand account. It
Mar 04, 2013 Antonella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just reread this book in the original version (French), and at the second read it was even more impressive.

I had read ''Il lungo viaggio'' in Italian maybe 20 years ago. In the meantime I pursued my interest for Resistance and Holocaust literature. Still, ''Le grand voyage'' remains one of the best books I've read, also because of the writing style. I'm looking forward to Quel beau dimanche !.

Of course it is a difficult read, of course at times it rips your heart out. But one couldn't expe
Aug 16, 2013 Saila1 rated it really liked it
5 nights travel in a prisoners packed train heading to a concentration camp. The author jumps back and forth in memory and opens other windows over WW2 which make the reading dynamic and vivid. Touching, impressive and frightening descriptions of the dis-humanity and indifference which can be reached by people.
"Le soir, je demande, vous vous teniez dans cette piece?- oui, dit-Elle, on se tiens dans cette piece- vous habitez ici depuis long temps?-oui, depuis tres long temps-le soir, je lui dema
May 03, 2011 Laurel rated it really liked it
I bought this book at the bookstore at Buchenwald. We took a bus from Weimar. There is a village near to the camp and I looked at these houses and could not imagine living in a town called Buchenwald. It was very is so hard to understand the human condition. There is a section when the prisoners go into the village after the Germans had retreated...very tense. The Long Voyage translated by Richard Seaver (he was the publisher of Arcade and a translator) is great book. Semprun was ...more
Ryan Mishap
Sep 15, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-novels
Fictionalized account of the five days he spent in a boxcar on the way to Buchenwald during WWII. Fascinating, well-rendered account of cruelty and desperation.
Kaziwa Salih

The Long Voyage , by Jorge Semprun can be read as an autobiographical narrative,of primarily psychological interest, but with historical, philosophical dimensions that make it particularly interesting text.In traumatic episode and dark setting Manuel a Hispanic – French goes sixteen years back, and tells of a five days train ride to a German concentration camp . At the time he was twenty years old and captured as a member of the French resistance organization. Although he is jammed into the cat
Aug 13, 2013 Stephan rated it liked it
‘How could human beings be so cruel and evil towards other human beings?’ is the question that rises and accompanies the reader throughout the hero’s entire journey in hell. The unbearable atrocities which he witnesses are extremely traumatic. There was so much pain in this book that I have shed tears and pondered whether to proceed with reading it or not. Second World War literature is never an easy read but this particular account of Jorge Semprun was extremely devastating an experience. The s ...more
Jul 23, 2013 Zapatoo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wie das Unbeschreibbare beschreiben? Semprún versucht es mit der Erinnerung an die auf das Minimum reduzierte Bewegung der Deportation ins KZ Buchenwald. Immer wieder springt er zurück in die sich voranwälzende Erinnerung an diese fünf Nächte und so wie sich diese zuspitzen und er sich dem Tod seines Nächsten, mit ihm eingepfercht im Viehwaggon, nähert, so nähert er sich in den weiter vor- und zurückgreifenden Erinnerungen, den Katastrophen, den Gewissheiten um den Tod von Freunden und Kameraden ...more
Aug 07, 2016 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jorge Semprún's anti-fascist fictionalised memoir has been sitting patiently on my shelves waiting to be read for around twenty years. The author found himself defined as a "Spanish Red" when as a boy he was forced to flee Franco's Spain. He was 19 years old when captured - fighting with the Maquis - by the Gestapo and sent on a hellish journey to Buchenwald (the original French title was The Long Voyage). Semprún insists that he was not fighting for France - but for a greater human liberation t ...more
I have no idea what to rate this as, so 3 stars is a happy-ish middle ground.
As I was reading this, I initially had to force myself to continue. The structure of the narrative confused me, and I had no idea where it was going, but as I decided that I was going to write an essay about this book, I kept going, then started over after 50 pages and read it in one sitting, albeit not in great detail, but rather almost skimming through it to find relevant passages. Now that I had a purpose, I could re
Dec 03, 2011 Lysergius rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
Gasping for breath in a cattle truck occupied by 119 other men, a young Spaniard captured fighting with the French Resistance counts off the days and nights as the train rolls slowly but inexorably toward Buchenwald. On the five seemingly endless days of the journey, he has conversations that send him into daydreams about his childhood or set him fighting Resistance battles over again. He describes the temporary holding prison where the names of distant concentration camps are spoken of in whisp ...more
Jori Richardson
Nov 28, 2012 Jori Richardson rated it liked it
About a young man from Spain, caught up in the French Resistance and the Jewish Holocaust of World War II.
This book mainly consisted of dialogue and the narrator's personal thoughts about a variety of subjects.
The story all takes place with him and his companions in a train car on the way to Buchenwald. As the journey takes place, the story frequently leaves the present and takes us back to various memories and recollections leading up to this voyage.
I didn't like the way in which the author wro
Roberto Cacho
Sep 11, 2011 Roberto Cacho rated it really liked it
Me ha parecido el libro más interesante de Semprún de los tres que he leido. Se trata de un relato autobiográfico. La trama central narra el viaje de varios días en tren desde Francia hasta el campo de concentración de Buchenwald. Alrededor de esta narración, como es característico de las novelas de Semprún, va intercalando recuerdos que le van sugiriendo la narración central. Altamente recomendable.
Jan 08, 2014 Leniel rated it it was amazing
Ce livre est tout simplement magnifique. Subtile, tragique, réel. Il parle d'une face de la guerre dont on parle peu, en tous cas peu sur ce ton. Aussi tragique soit-il, il ne manque pas de dérision, d'humour.
Apr 03, 2014 Raquel rated it it was amazing
Relato de un español deportado a un campo de concentración nazi. Este es un libro que todo español debería leer para comprender las heridas de nuestra sociedad, que aún siguen sangrando.
May 09, 2015 Raluca rated it really liked it
Shelves: human-nature
As usual, this writer is amazing by his choice of words and his vision of the world and second world war.
Apr 11, 2014 Caro1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impactante. Aunque nos lo hayan contado una y otra vez, es terrible pensar que lo que cuenta lo ha vivido.
Jennifer Sarha
Dec 08, 2014 Jennifer Sarha rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and enjoyable - a non-linear narrative which nevertheless manages to be perfectly coherent and comprehensible.
Sep 06, 2007 Beáta rated it liked it
Shelves: so-so
In my opinion it's a very depressing book.

Szinte depressziós lettem ettől a könyvtől. Nagyon nyomasztó volt, de nem bánom, hogy elolvastam.
Balázs Tinku
Balázs Tinku rated it it was amazing
Oct 04, 2013
Lina rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2013
Ölveczky Judit
Ölveczky Judit rated it it was amazing
Dec 14, 2013
Noé rated it it was amazing
Nov 13, 2013
Johannes Pause
Johannes Pause rated it really liked it
May 06, 2016
Angela rated it liked it
Apr 10, 2011
Megan rated it did not like it
Nov 11, 2014
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Jorge Semprún (Madrid, 1923-París, 2011) fue testigo de algunos de los peores cataclismos políticos del siglo xx y participó activamente en la lucha contra los totalitarismos. Hijo de una familia de la alta burguesía, el estallido de la guerra civil le condujo al exilio en Francia. Miembro activo de la Resistencia francesa contra la ocupación nazi, es detenido y enviado a Buchenwald, donde permane ...more
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“Il y a cet entassement des corps dans le wagon cette lancinante douleur dans le genou droit. Les jours les nuits. Je fais un effort et j'essaye de compter les jours de compter les nuits. Ca m'aidera peut-être à y voir clair. Quatre jours cinq nuits. Mais j'ai dû mal compter ou alors il y a des jours qui se sont changés en nuits. J'ai des nuits en trop des nuits à revendre.” 3 likes
“I'm in prison because I'm a free man, because I found it necessary to exercise my freedom, because I accepted this necessity.” 2 likes
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