Journey to the End of the Night

In Journey to the End of the Night, Louis-Ferdinand Céline jabs at war, colonialism, the U.S., the medical profession and anything that comes along the way. His writing style, its coarse language and cynical humor, reflects his irreverence toward norms, and animates his contempt for society and pessimism toward the human condition. The book starts like Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front, hammering at the futility of war, where wide-eyed youths waste their lives fighting for the ambitions of bureaucrats and return with disillusion, wrecked health, chronic unemployment and alienation from society. When our antihero Ferdinand Bardamu goes to Africa, we feel like reading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which exposes cruelty and inhumanity in colonial outposts and multinational enterprises’ exploiting the natives for profit. Bardamu’s travel to the U.S. and struggle to stay alive remind us of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, where the business conglomerates exploit cheap laborers, squeezing every ounce of life from them, to maximize profit and shareholder value.  In our antihero’s return to France, we recall Knut Hamsun’s Hunger and any number of Honoré de Balzac’s works, with the masses struggling to eke out a living. In the novel, the characters lie, steal, and even kill to survive and live anyway they could. It’s rats fighting each other for scum.

Night in Paris

As the title indicates, our antihero, and his friends and acquaintances, journeys through the dark night of life, in the hope that the end would come soon and the darkness would end. Toward the end of the novel, his friend Robinson, after all his suffering and failure and disillusions, chooses death to end this night. This novel, based on Céline’s life, reveals his disgust for society, government, and humanity.

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