I read for you Journey to the End of the Night – voyage au bout de la nuit de Louis-Ferdinand Céline

View original image
Louis Ferdinand Céline

A surprising reading, innovative designs, JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT disconcerts the non-informed reader. Either love it or hate it, it’s one or the other. I’m in the first category.

Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

A few words about the author

Louis-Ferdinand Céline (real name Louis-Ferdinand DESTOUCHES; Céline was, apparently, the first name of his grandmother). He was scheduled for a war child born there in 1894. The 1870 defeat (SEDAN) against the Prussians was then in all minds. The French were waiting for revenge. Celine was ready in 1914 to participate in the great slaughter. Wounded, decorated with the Croix de Guerre (war cross), he was reformed in 1915.

View original image
Journey to the end of the night by Tardi

Journey to the End of the Night – Louis-Ferdinand Céline.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline was then recruited by a company and went to Africa. He discovered the slave trade (a term he uses extensively in its book), the greed of colonial officials and the hell of the equatorial forest.

View original image
Journey to the end of the night by Tardi

Tired, Louis-Ferdinand Céline returned to France and settled in Meudon, where he fell in love. He turned to a career in medicine and was hired at the clinic of Bezons, the time to (re) discover human misery, in what it had more sordid.

He made a few private practice, he described in the book. In 1926, he met an American dancer (character staged in his book), who will leave him in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. He tried to find her in California, the depths of despair, and discovered she had married a Jew. Was it behind his anti-Semitism?

With the approach of World War II, he does not expect Goebbels, nor the fleet swastika cross on the Hotel de Ville in Paris, to publish some anti-Semitic pamphlets (Bagatelle for a massacre in 1937 – the school Corpses  in 1938) of a rare violence. (see quote at end of article).

1940. Louis-Ferdinand Céline clearly displays his penchant collaborationist, designating the Freemasons and Jews as « real enemies » of France, supporting the principle of the LVF (Legion of French Volunteers), who went to fight on the front Russian alongside the Germans.

1944. He was among the last square of Petain supporters. He was exfiltrated by the Germans and rejoinded Sigmaringen. He died in Meudon in 1961. He will tell in the one castle to another his journey in Germany.

Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline – reading sheet

The style

Cut, chopped, the style of Louis-Ferdinand Céline is made of short sentences, rhythm. His French is spoken, a French of the street, living, language of breakfast people. He did not use the French of the dictionary,taht he placed among the dead languages beside Latin and Greek. We find, however, random pages of very strong language, imperfect subjunctive off of slang words, the « bloody fools » surrounded by beautiful formulas. An innovative style, which was at the time (1934) probably ever read.

Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline – reading sheet

The story

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT is partly autobiographical. Written in the first person, it scans the main stages of the life of Celine. The hero (Bardamu) leaves, on a whim, to the trenches. he is found in Africa, then in New York before practicing the profession of medicine in Paris. We recognize here Céline’s life of course. This story is an opportunity to rediscover the time, to paint the plain hell, in the language of the poor through the eyes of ordinary people, who are rotting (the theme of decay is everywhere) in the trenches, in the African plantations, in factories FORD, Rancy of the poor suburbs.


JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT is a wry book. Céline is aware of the absurdity of life, but he is helpless, hopeless.

Loneliness is to lead to death. Céline

We found nihilism. The absurdity is present in the table of war, where soldiers roam without battle plan, no idea about the meaning of the conflict.

Why they shoot the Germans? They do not have me me Boches! Celine.

The troop is lost in the dark in search of a village and collect shells randomly lives, including that of the officer who, seconds before, haranguing his troops.

View original image

The world is absurd and miserable. Small-suffering people. They are prisoners in their factories. They suffocate in the equatorial hell, dying in the poor suburbs of typhoid, cancer, illegal abortions.

In the Céline’s books, the body sulfur, rot, is covered by blood and shit. The world is unjust and full of pranks: the hero discovers the colonial officials, dumbed down by greed, loan officers to sacrifice men.

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT is an open anti-militarist, a critique of patriotism , this bourgeois invention designed to find volunteers i for the massacre.

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT is a anti-colonial pamphlet . Céline seeks to dismantle the positive bias of colonialism (see also the article on Clemenceau tale Jules FERRY ). Jules Ferry had tried to justify to the National Assembly entitled « superior people » to civilize the « primitive » peoples. Celine shows brutal colonial officials, racist or alcoholics, dealing « niggers » like cattle which they would own.

NIGHT JOURNEY TO THE END also gives in the anti-capitalism. In Detroy, he describes Taylorism in these words: It (Taylorism) crushes individuals, reduced to misery and even deny their humanity.

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT denounces injustice everywhere but seems resigned.

TROTSKY will see a passive view of the world with an edgy sensibility without aspiration for the future, a kind of resigned indignation. The hero will beat her childhood, the young girl dripping with blood after a forced abortion, crime missed the old, men of science powerless against the childhood disease, but never denounce these crimes, the leak, the best regret.

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT is a disenchanted vision of a rotten world, without purpose or hope.

 I feel very friend of Hitler, a great friend of all Germans, I find that they are brothers, they are right to be racist. It would give me a lot of trouble if they ever were beaten. I find that our real enemy is the Jews and the Freemasons. That war is the war of Jews and Freemasons, it’s not ours. It is a crime that requires us to bear arms against the people of our race, who ask us anything, it’s just to please the robbers ghetto. That’s plummeting in the last step of the dégueulasserie. Celine.

The School of corpses, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, 1938

Louis-Ferdinand Celine entered great literature as others enter their own home. mature man, endowed with the vast supply of doctor’s observations and the artist, with supreme indifference to the academic, with an exceptional sense of life and language, Celine wrote a book remain, even if written in other and which are level with the latter. Journey to the End of Night novel pessimism, was dictated by fear before life and fatigue it causes more than revolt. An active revolt is linked to hope. In the book of Celine, there is no hope. Leon TROTSKY 1933.

Extract from his African trip

The sunsets in this African hell prove famous. We are not cut. Whenever tragic assassinations like huge sun. A huge quid. Only it was a lot of admiration for one man. The sky for an hour while parading squirted from one end to the other scarlet screaming, and then the green shone among the trees and rose from the ground in trembling streaks until the first stars. After that Gray took up the whole horizon and then red again, but then tired red and not for long. It ended well. All colors fell ragged, slumped over the forest like rags after the hundredth. Every day at six o’clock exactly as it happened.
Louis-Ferdinand Celine – Journey to the End of the night

%d blogueurs aiment cette page :