Journey to the end of the night- Louis Ferdinand Celine

Finished Celine’s Journey to the End the night yesterday.

This novel is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. It took me 13 long days to finish it.

This one is obviously a different book, and I dare say a special one.

Plot

Told in first person, this is all about the travails of Ferdinand Bardamu, a medical student,the alter ego of the author himself. It all starts during the war years, when Bardamu joins the army, but after witnessing some terrible events he starts doubting his own sanity. During that time he gets acquainted with Leon Robinson, another fellow soldier, who would haunt him throughout the story.

After returning from the front, Bardamu starts an affair with Lola, an American woman, who would ditch him sooner, after hearing his views on Patriotism (Bardamu despises the wretched war), plunging him in to the abysses of insanity.

Later, he starts making out with Musyne, a promiscuous woman, but it also ends badly.

Broken, he then shifts to Africa, boarding a ship where the passenger would treat him with contempt and suspicion. There too he would witness the selfishness and thuggery of human beings, making him depressed. Sold as a slave to a ship to America, he reaches this great country, where again he’d be meeting Lola .Their encounter ends badly and he returns to France, to work as a doctor,  and also works sometime at an asylum where he meets the interesting figure of Baryton, who would find his own spiritual salvation by studying English. Here he again meets Robinson, which culminates in the murder of an elderly woman named as Henrouille, and eventually in the murder of Robinson by his lover, Madelon. The novel ends when Bardamu goes to the police station to depose before the cops.

Character Sketches

Ferdinand Bardamu

A medical student. He is a womanizer and a pessimist.

Leon Robinson

A thug. He gets killed in the end by his lover, a cunning woman named as Madelon. Robinson is so self centred. He is also the murderer of Grandma Henrouille.

Madame Henrouille

A wicked woman. Her only ambition is to get rid of her mother in law, Grandma Henrouille, and with the connivance of Robinson she achieves it.

Lola

A woman, a beautiful one with lofty ideals about patriotism and masculinity. She gets pissed off when Bardamu tells about his own ideas on war and patriotism.

Baryton

The superior of Bardamu at the asylum. He hates the lunatics, and he finds his own spiritual salvation in English. Bardamu teaches him English, and finally he leaves France in search of his ‘destiny’.

Madelon

A cunning woman. She develops an affair with Bardamus and at the same time dotes on Robinson. In the end, she kills Robinson.

Comments

Celine views Patriotism and racial superiority  as absurd things. In this aspect, there are parallels between Bardamu and Paul Baumer (the protagonist of All quiet on the Western front) albeit in a different way. This is a misanthropic universe no doubt about that.The whole plot reeks of a fetid pessimism. Bardamu is helpless,at times a  wicked misanthrope, who has his own moments of altruism though they are rare.

Rating

5/5

9 thoughts on “Journey to the end of the night- Louis Ferdinand Celine”

      1. You are correct..
        Both novels have an air of pessimism in them, or should say they have some misanthropic elements too? So the overall tone is bit similiar.
        Apart from that there are numerous differences.Camus dwells on a philosophical plane. Celine too is philosophical still it’s very pessimistic and misanthropic. This novel is very graphic. Sex,racial purity, patriotism everything is discussed with contempt.
        Still it’s a good idea to compare Meursault with Ferdinand Bardamu 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I do. But I guess this is his masterpiece.I plan to read his Death on credit,Guignol band soon. Also I’d like to try knausgard as well. Have you read some of his other works? How was the experience?
      Thank you so much 🙂

      Like

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