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Journey to the End of the Night

(Ferdinand Bardamu #1)

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  32,135 ratings  ·  1,908 reviews
Louis-Ferdinand Celine'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 pub ...more
Paperback, 453 pages
Published May 17th 2006 by New Directions (first published 1932)
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Wm Hubert Selby Jr - Last Exit to Brooklyn
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Cormac McCarthy - Child of God
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Hubert Selby Jr - Last Exit to Brooklyn
Nelson Algren - Walk on the Wild Side
Cormac McCarthy - Child of God
Mikhail Bulgakov - Heart of a Dog
Jack Kerouac - Dharma Bums
Celine - Death on the Installment Plan


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Mike Puma
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: good freakin' question

Whoa. Just finished, processing, mulling, wondering…what do I say? How do you prepare someone? Should someone be prepared (I wasn’t)? Imagine the most depressing story you’ve ever read (and I’ve read ALL of McCarthy), narrated by the angriest of narrators (who may mellow, then again, maybe readers simply become hardened), describing circumstances that are necessarily ugly (war, colonial Africa) or merely simply ugly (contemporary culture, old people, young people, other people), but then told wi

Ahmad Sharabiani
648. Voyage Au Bout De La Nuit = Journey to The End of The Night, Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Journey to the End of the Night (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 poo
Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-french
“Not much music left inside us for life to dance to. Our youth has gone to the ends of the earth to die in the silence of the truth. And where, I ask you, can a man escape to, when he hasn't enough madness left inside him? The truth is an endless death agony. The truth is death. You have to choose: death or lies. I've never been able to kill myself.”

 photo The20great-beauty_zpsykefcedb.jpg
Toni Servillo is Jep Gambardella in The Great Beauty

I watched the Italian film The Great Beauty the other day. The film opens with a quote by L
Journey to the End of the Night "tells about the life of medical students". Ferdinand Bardamu, from the First World War on bush stories in the deepest Africa and a galley trip to America until the return to France as a poor doctor.
The novel carries mainly autobiographical features. How Celine marches his protagonist Bardamu as a worker, doctor, people and lover through the turmoil of war and the societies in Africa, America and Paris. With one language ahead of the next, Celine's focus on every
Steven Godin
Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
From the muddy battlegrounds of the great war and the sweltering infested jungles of French colonial Africa, to his discovery of america where he takes a job in an industrial Detroit and his return to the suburbs of Paris to work as a doctor before finally taking employment in a mental asylum, we follow Céline's alter ego Bardamu with a misanthropic first person narrative through the trials and tribulations of life and trying to make sense of the world around him. Told as a semi-autobiographical ...more
I hadn't travelled far into this book when I started taking notice of the word choices. The adjective immonde (foul, filthy) cropped up every few pages; asticot (maggot) was frequent too, as was miteux (seedy). And the words noir (black) and nuit (night) recurred so often that when the main character, French army scout Ferdinand Bardamu, finds himself alone in a Flanders town called Noirceur-sur-la-Lys one dark night during WWI, I smiled at the name of the town—it seemed deliberately invented to ...more
May 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Apparently, for a week or so in June 1997 I either lost my sense of humor or felt some kind of glow of optimism that made me feel the misanthropic subject of this book was boring. My principle memories of reading this for the first time were a) being bored and b) buying a bunch of The Smiths and The Cure tapes at a garage sale.

For some reason when I saw this book sitting on my bookshelf last week I thought I'd give it another try. Why? I don't know exactly. I have lots of unread books, but I fe
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“The sunsets in that African hell proved to be fabulous. They never missed. As tragic every time as a monumental murder of the sun! But the marvel was too great for one man alone. For a whole hour the sky paraded in great delirious spurts of scarlet from end to end; after that the green of the trees exploded and rose up in quivering trails to meet the first stars. Then the whole horizon turned gray again and then red, but this time a tired red that didn’t last long. That was the end. All the col ...more
Ben Loory
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
just finished reading it and it really feels like it might be the central book of the entire 20th century. i see catch-22 and henry miller and william burroughs and kerouac and sartre and beckett and bukowski and vonnegut and hunter s. thompson and bret easton ellis and about a million other people... celine's voice is just so clear now, standing behind all of them... it's not even that i like the book so much (though it's ferocious and fun and has a lot of great lines), it's just that it's like ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Celine’s Journey to the End of Night is a towering achievement in literary observation through a narrator incapable of self-delusion and a less than stringent filter between his thoughts and his audience. Plus, it’s funny as hell.

The novel reads as the author’s travelogue through war-torn Europe, remote Africa, industrialized America, and post-war France. I have no idea how much of Journey to the End of Night is factual and how much is fiction, and I don’t care either way. At points Celine sound
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1001-list
“Misery is like some horrible woman you’ve married. Maybe it’s better to end up loving her a little than to knock yourself out beating her all your life. Since obviously you won’t be able to bump her off.”

Journey to the End of the Night is an exceptionally well-written, scathingly intelligent novel. In it, you encounter the refreshingly misanthropic Bardamu, who leaves France after WWI and travels to Africa and America before coming back to France and the end of the night. It certainly does
Jan 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Teenagers that just don't give a fuck; Fans of Burroughs and Jim Morrison (probably also teenagers)
Fifteen years of sitting on my bookshelves and I finally get around to reading it. This is a little bit sad, because I would have loved this book fifteen years ago, when I believed bitter misanthropy and self-indulgent misery were the only true lenses through which humanity should be viewed. Of course, I was in high school at the time (and it was boarding school at that),so that explained it.

At age thirty-two, Journey to the End of the Night set somewhat differently with me. Ferdinand Bardamu's
Michael Finocchiaro
Céline was a pretty unsavory human being. An anti-Semite, a misogynist, pretty much full of hate all around. And yet, a fucking amazing writer. His French is both beautiful and vulgar, heart-rending and repulsive, full of interesting characters and yet completely alone. Voyage au bout de la nuit also exists as a graphic novel by Tardi. It is a completely unforgettable novel of devastating beauty that needs to be taken for the literature it is without too much concern for the tortured man that cr ...more
E. G.
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Preface to the 1952 Gallimard Edition

--Journey to the End of the Night

Afterword, by William T. Vollmann
Paul Bryant
Dec 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
If Celine had shut his trap around the 300 page mark he might well have clung on to that elusive fifth star, but as it is, finishing his amazing horrible novel composed of ten thousand variations on the theme of human life being 95% unbearable misery and 5% boredom and everybody smells bad becomes an exercise in readerly self-flagellation.

How many times do we need to be told this doleful message? Around 15 times per page. The industrial-strength vitriol keeps us awake, though. There’s no nodding
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Our Journey...

"To travel is very useful, it makes the imagination work, the rest is just delusion and pain. Our journey is entirely imaginary, which is its strength."

Celine's first novel begins with the words, "Here's how it started" and finishes "...and that would be the end of us."

In between is a journey that takes in childhood, family life, service in the great war, recuperation in a hospital, an adventure in the heart of darkness of colonial Africa, a liberating voyage across the Atlantic, t
Jon Nakapalau
Poetic nihilism - dissecting the cadaver of existential absurdity not to find a cause of death; but simply because the cuts pass the time in the morgue with a locked door. Truly disturbing: very graphic descriptions of violence and sex.
MJ Nicholls
Oct 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MJ by: Mike Puma
A full-on misanthropic epic, like if E.M. Cioran met Thom Yorke for a fly pie in a Nigerian slum. Céline is a deliberately choppy, lawless stylist, Dostoevskian in his fondness for the nerve-racked ellipsis and the hysterical exclamation point (tics that would characterise his later, practically unreadable, work). Bardamu is the Céline stand-in whose detached cruelty acts as a necessary galvaniser for his adventures in WWI, French-occupied African hinterlands and a stint in a freshly industriali ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: french-novels
This is undoubtedly one of the great novels. It is misanthropic in the extreme; the author really doesn’t like anyone, including himself. Often written in the vernacular, brutal, comic and ranging over three continents and a World War. There is a strong element of the autobiographical in it. It has also influenced more great writers than you can shake a sock at. The list is a remarkable one; Beckett, Sartre (briefly). Genet, Barthes, Miller, Bukowski, Heller, Vonnegut, Ken Kesey, Kerouac, Gunter ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
A nihilistic freight train.

First published in French in 1932, this is still readable and relevant and could be seen as a clarion call for all the pent-up cynicism and aggression of Generation X.

This has been wildly influential and while Celine’s prose may seem pedestrian to a post-modern reader, it is because so many write like him now – we must imagine what a trailblazer this was in the 30s. I can see how this has influenced Joseph Heller, Henry Miller, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and K
All you who are reading these very lines right now, are waiting for a review, an analysis maybe of Journey to the End of the Night, I bet. Well, I regret to say that I'll most probably disappoint you. In fact -and I don't mean to talk down the admittedly great job some reviewers have done here- I don't think one can properly review this book. You can talk about it or the way you felt reading it but the true essence of it should be experienced through reading it and not some ridiculous review a l ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Journey to the End of the Night was not what I expected. Based on the cover art and description, I had prepared myself for a grim and sombre voyage to the depths of human depravity. Maybe the book simply hasn't aged well, but I thought it was really quite tame - not at all the "literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism" that is promised in the description. And where it does try to push the boundaries, it seems to do so in a very superficial way - for cheap adolescent shock valu ...more
Sidharth Vardhan

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

"When you start hiding from people, it's a sign that you're afraid to play with them. That in itself is a disease. We should try to find out why we refuse to get cured of loneliness. "

Reading Journey is like listening to a drunk old man - the kind one sees in those cowboy movies, telling you why his life sucks. He can't talk about a woman without talking about her legs and there
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We will not consider the personal politics or prejudices of this author, if only to quell / pacify the legions of followers who attend my words throughout the globe, (about 3 people or less).

Let’s forget the bad stuff that every country produces and rather we will recall some of the behemoths and wonders that France has purveyed.

Pissarro, Manet, Degas, Monet, Gauguin.

Diderot, Sartre, Descartes, Camus.

Stendhal, de Balzac, Hugo (his masterpiece is unequaled).

Escoffier, Roger Verge, Bocuse (david,
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Warning: If you've experienced melancholia or been diagnosed with depression, reading this novel may be inadvisable.
<3.7 stars>

"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
Mark André
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-ii
Cool book. Great read. Bold, Unique and Fascinating. Not for everyone.
Nov 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The depth and honesty of this book I think, are often misunderstood as being purely cynical, and depressing. Celine sees the complexities of humanity and gives it to you straight.The truth is an ugly thing to face, but there is beauty here too, not only in the prose, but also in the life lived in these pages. I see some light in his darkness. Don't get me wrong, I don't like people much.
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, scathing and-oh-so-very-bitter, Journey to the End of the Night is a beautifully written - and translated - paean to misanthropy and the general crumminess of man. The novel comprises the journeys of Céline's alter-ego, Ferdinand Bardemu, from a frightened and bewildered soldier in World War I to the jungles of Central Africa, the materialist and well-kept streets of a booming America, and back again to France to eke out a living as a listless doctor amongst the petty-bourgeois of the ...more
David Schaafsma
I'll write more here, maybe, but no, I had never read this, the first half of a work that also includes (in English translation) Death on the Installment Plan. Published in 1932 (with an English translation published in 1952 that I bought in the seventies at San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore, then lost after I had read some excerpts, and maybe some of it in collections later), it is a semi-autobiographical novel that Celine also called "confessions," focused on Ferdinand Bardamu and his dopp ...more
Apr 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Finally, after a busy week, I have finished my journey to the end of this book. Savage, brutal, disgusting, repulsive, and misanthropic are not necessarily adjectives I would use to describe a masterpiece, but with Celine, they're all meant as compliments.

Is it the most pessimistically scathing book ever written? I think so.

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline, pen name of Dr. Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, is best known for his works Voyage au bout de la nuit (Journey to the End of the Night), and Mort à crédit (Death on the Installment Plan). His highly innovative writing style using Parisian vernacular, vulgarities, and intentionally peppering ellipses throughout the text was used to evoke the cadence of speech.

Louis-Ferdinand Des

Other books in the series

Ferdinand Bardamu (2 books)
  • Death on the Installment Plan

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“The sadness of the world has different ways of getting to people, but it seems to succeed almost every time.” 380 likes
“An unfamiliar city is a fine thing. That's the time and place when you can suppose that all the people you meet are nice. It's dream time. ” 237 likes
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