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The Long Voyage

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  679 ratings  ·  47 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 Harry N. Abrams (first published 1963)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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Jan 06, 2013 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 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
Nov 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jose Semprun’un yirmili yaşların başındayken SS tarafından tutuklanıp çalışma kapına götürülmek üzere yaptırıldığı tren yolculuğunu anlatan bu kitap, tek kelimeyle olağanüstü. Yolculuk dediğimde romantik bir şey algılanmasın. tek ayağın üzerinde durmanın ve pencereye yakın bir yerde yer kapmanın şans sayıldığı balık istifi bir vagondan ve bu vagonda tuvalet niyetine teneke bir bidondan bahsediyorum. Dört beş gün süren yolculukta elbette ölenler oluyor ve bu ölüleri nasıl yerleştirsek de bize yer ...more
Jun 20, 2010 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.
Jazzy Lemon
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
He reminded me so much of Proust, and of course he had read him. This is the story, based on the author's experiences, of a journey in a packed boxcar to a German prison camp. ...more
Mar 04, 2013 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 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 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
Judith GDL
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It will stay in my heart forever... like a dagger.
Ryan Mishap
Sep 15, 2008 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.
Non conoscevo Jorge Semprún e ho scoperto questo libro casualmente, probabilmente mi è stato suggerito da Amazon, ma mi interessava (e mi interessa ancora) sapere qualcosa in più sugli spagnoli senza patria che, dopo aver lasciato la Spagna per fuggire dalla dittatura, oltre a trovarsi costretti a una vita in esilio, sono spesso stati vittime del regime nazista. La vita di Jorge Semprún ne è un esempio: la famiglia lascia la Spagna franchista all'inizio della guerra civile, approda in Olanda e p ...more
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
İlk defa okuduğum bir yazar. Yalın ve vurucu bir anlatımı var. Çok beğendim
Tim Weemhoff
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Na het veelbelovende, maar soms wat taaie eerste deel van Prousts Recherche weer wat anders. Karin H. leende me De Grote Reis (Le Grand Voyage) (1963) nadat ik verteld had deze zomer in Buchenwald te zijn geweest , in de buurt van Weimar.

Een prachtig, aangrijpend, autobiografisch boek van de Spaanse schrijver Jorge Semprun. Gevlucht naar Frankrijk tijdens de Spaanse Burgeroorlog en daar tijdens WOII in het verzet terechtgekomen. Vervolgens opgepakt en op de trein gezet naar Buchenwald, waarover
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 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'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
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The whole story itself is a long-long voyage, full of pain, despair, and devastating memories. To tell the truth, i`ve never really liked such kind of narrative mode. It`s always hard for me to read M. Prust, J. Joyce, and other prolific writers who represent this literary device.
But it`s absolutely different here. Somehow, it fits the novel and moves the plot forward. It made me want to read this and put all tiny puzzles together. This unordered structure, fleeting gleams of horror, scattered
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Il n'est certainement pas facile de parler d'un livre comme celui-ci, qui dépeint une telle expérience personnelle, et en même temps partagé par tant d'autres personnes.

Parce qu'il s'agit d'un portrait fictif d'une situation réelle (l'expérience d'un réfugié espagnol en France sous l'occupation nazie), il est difficile de catégoriser le livre. L'auteur utilise un récit non linéaire, où les moments présents sont confondus avec des événements passés qui étaient indélébilement coincés dans l'esprit
Maurizio Manco
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- Che roba è, la felicità, Sigrid? - e mi chiedo, facendo questa domanda, se sarei capace di dire che cos’è la felicità, veramente.
Lei aspira il fumo della sigaretta e riflette.
- È quando ci si rende conto di esistere, veramente, - dice.
Bevo un sorso d’alcool e la guardo.
- È quando la certezza di esistere diventa talmente acuta che si ha voglia di gridare, - dice.
- Forse, - dico, - di dolore.
(p. 136)
Roberto Cacho
Sep 11, 2011 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.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Négy napon és öt éjszakán át tartó utazás a koncentrációs tábor felé, egy tömött tehervagonban, 119 másik politikai fogollyal együtt, csak úgy állva és étlen-szomjan, ahogy állatokkal se bánnak. Tizenpár év távlatából mondja el e pár nap történetét az író, szabad folyást engedve az utazás előtti és utáni emlékeinek, egyik témát fonva a másikba, vissza-visszatérve egy korábbihoz, míg végül egyre zaklatottabb hangvételben, de beszélni képes róla. Megrázó utazás, még olvasni is.
Jan 08, 2014 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. ...more
Jaime Jones
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the french version also. Difficult, important and interesting.
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Écriture puissante sur l’expérience de la déportation...
Eva Belonohy
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
A defining book of my school years. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Apr 03, 2014 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 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.
Lily Marton
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I accidentally found.
Apr 11, 2014 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.
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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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