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Hux

Journey to the End of the Night

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My favourite book.

 

It begins in World War I with Bardamu (Celine's alter ego) and explores the trauma and futility of the war. He meets Robinson, a kind of doppelganger who lives his life parallel to Bardamu. Broth meet again in Africa, a place where Bardamu experiences yet more suffering (the chapter on the boat to Africa is sublime). 

 

Then he goes to New York (following Robinson) and works at the Ford company and meets a prostitute called Molly. He returns to France and studies medicine at which point the book jumps ahead six years and finds Bardamu working in a working-class suburb of Paris dealing with horrific things such as botched abortions, miscarriages, and the death of a local child. This is where Leon Robinson become a regular character rather than just a spectre. 

 

The book is often described as a celebration nihilism. Celine has very little respect for humanity. To him, it's all suffering, crime, greed, and pain. He witnesses awful things but responds to them as though they're the banal embodiment of normalcy (the book is actually quite funny because of this). Even when Robinson plots to murder an old woman, Bardamu doesn't seem to care, and simply thinks... 'it's nothing to do with me.' There's an underlying message about the trauma caused to both men due to the war. They have both been numbed to the point that they are no longer human beings. 

 

The prose is some of the most exquisite I've ever come across. Which is interesting because it was made famous for its more authentic, real-life writing. Celine was, of course, a noted antisemite in real life. That might be an issue for some. Personally speaking, the fact that Celine is a fairly awful person himself only makes the book resonate more. I have a tendency to separate the artist from the art. And thank God because this book is a masterpiece. 9/10

Edited by Hux

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