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1001 Book Review: Journey to the End of the Night Louis-Ferdinand Céline


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Journey to the end of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Published in: 1932
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: Journey to the End of the Night

Synopsis from Goodreads: Louis-Ferdinand Céline’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 published in France in 1932, but quickly became a success with the reading public in Europe, and later in America where it was first published by New Directions in 1952. The story of the improbable yet convincingly described travels of the petit-bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu, from the trenches of World War I, to the African jungle, to New York and Detroit, and finally to life as a failed doctor in Paris, takes the readers by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel’s inevitable, sad conclusion.

Book Worm’s Review: I really struggled with this book and it felt much longer than its already long 600 odd pages. The main problem I had was that this was a first person narrative told from the point of view of French man Ferdinand Bardamu who I just couldn’t relate to. The narrative jumps around and lacks narrative consistency consistency. Unfortunately, it really comes down to the fact that I found most of it boring.

The book is jam packed with footnotes which were all essential to understanding the story. For example, many of the footnotes revealed the “in” jokes  that Céline was using — references that would have gone unnoticed by those of us not familiar with Paris. For the reader who understood those references this is probably a very amusing book.

I gave this 3 stars due to the fact that while I may not have enjoyed it, it is nowhere near as bad as some of the books the 1001 list has forced me to read so far.

I think the kind of reader who would enjoy this book would be someone who is very knowledgeable about France and Paris in particular. It would also suit those with a dark sense of humor as some of the darker events could be viewed as humorous.

What do you think? Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Journey to the End of the Night

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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