Journey to the End of the Night  

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"This is what happened. Some time after the Canary Islands, I learned from one of the stewards that my fellow passengers, by common accord, thought me affected, not to say insolent . . . that they suspected me of being a pimp and a pederast . . . something of a cocaine addict on the side . . . but only on the side . . . Then the suspicion made its way around that I must have left France to escape the consequences of certain heinous crimes." --paranoia scene aboard the Admiral Bragueton, tr. Ralph Manheim


"'Nihilism, unrelieved despair and negation, misanthropy, pessimism' - very much the same set of clichés that greeted Louis-Ferdinand Celine's Journey to the End of the Night, which to my mind is a very funny book, in a picaresque tradition stretching back to Petronius and to The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas Nashe. I have always seen my own work in the light of the picaresque - a series of adventures and misadventures, horrific and comic, encountered by an antihero." --William S. Burroughs, William S. Burroughs At the Front: Critical Reception, 1959 - 1989


Voyager, c'est bien utile, ça fait travailler l'imagination. Tout le reste n'est que déceptions et fatigues. Notre voyage à nous est entièrement imaginaire.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Journey to the End of the Night (Voyage au bout de la nuit, 1932) is the first novel of Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work follows antihero Ferdinand Bardamu through his involvement in World War I, colonial Africa, and post-WWI America (where he works for the Ford Motor Company), returning in the second half of the work to France, where he becomes a medical doctor and sets up 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, those of Bardamu.

Influence and legacy

Will Self has written that Journey to the End of the Night "is the novel, perhaps more than any other, that inspired me to write fiction".

The song "End of the Night" by The Doors references this book, as it had a great influence on the work of Jim Morrison

Kurt Vonnegut cited Journey as one of his influences in Palm Sunday, and Bardamu's misadventures appear to have influenced Joseph Heller's Catch-22.

Charles Bukowski makes reference to Journey in a number of his novels and short stories, and employs prose techniques borrowed from Céline. Bukowski wrote in Notes of a Dirty Old Man that "Céline was the greatest writer of 2000 years."

The Charlotte Gainsbourg song "Voyage" also references the book's French and English titles.

In Jean-Luc Godard's 1965 dystopian science fiction film Alphaville, protagonist Lemmy Caution dismisses a taxi driver's offer of route options to his destination by stating that he is on "a journey to the end of the night". The film depicts the use of poetry as a weapon against a sentient computer system.

Italian film director Sergio Leone was a fan of the novel and was considering a film adaptation in the 1960s.

The movie Bringing out the Dead by Martin Scorsese contains a scene showing the book on a shelf in Frank Pierce's home.

The movie Wild Things contains a scene in which Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) is reading the book when Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) goes to question her.

Brooklyn-based hardcore punk band Swallowed Up included a spoken sample of text from the novel on a track from their 2010 split LP with Black Kites.

Sergio Leone a confié avoir toujours rêvé d'adapter ce livre au cinéma. Même chose pour Michel Audiard, qui avait confié que ne pas avoir adapté Voyage au bout de la nuit au cinéma était l'un de ses plus grands regrets. Il en est de même pour Jean-Luc Godard et Abel Gance. Le film La grande bellezza s'ouvre en en citant un extrait où Céline parle d'un voyage imaginaire : « Voyager, c’est bien utile, ça fait travailler l’imagination. Tout le reste n’est que déception et fatigues. Notre voyage à nous est entièrement imaginaire. Voilà sa force. Il va de la vie à la mort. Hommes, bêtes, villes et choses, tout est imaginé. C’est un roman, rien qu’une histoire fictive. Littré le dit, qui ne se trompe jamais. Et puis d’abord tout le monde peut en faire autant. Il suffit de fermer les yeux. C’est de l’autre côté de la vie ».

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Journey to the End of the Night" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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