Journey to the End of the Night by Louis Ferdinand Celine

Journey to the End of the Night by Louis Ferdinand Celine

Postby JacobLouisBeaney » Wed Oct 28, 2015 8:04 pm

Finally finished Louis Ferdinand Celines Journey to the End of the Night, which a lot of people don't know about because Celine was a massive anti-Semite and was extremely controversial. Though there's no Jew bashing in this particular book, he dishes out his disgust for humanity quite evenly in it.

Celine was a massive influence on Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac, Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and William S Burroughs. Bukowski said he was the “Greatest writer of 2,000 years” It's written in that similar first person/existential/deadbeat anti-hero fashion but way before those other guys and was obviously a precursor to them. A lot of exciting shit actually happens in the book, he doesn't just get drunk and work in crappy factories or do a load of drugs. The first half is like an adventure story but with the most misanthropic protagonist in all of literature, the main character travels about a lot experiencing World War I, colonial Africa, 1920's America and Parisian slums.

This guys writing style is amazing, easy to read, colloquial with nice erudite flourishes in it, some good swearing in it too, he uses the best metaphors ever to describe what a bunch of lousy bastards we all are. But who could blame him, anyone who had a first hand experience of the obscene absurdity of World War I is never going to look upon humanity in a favourable light.

The book is bleak, cynical, brutal, dark, depressing...but also hilarious, some of the funniest, blackest comedy of all time (Joseph Heller even admitted to ripping off the first half of this book for his novel Catch 22, which I also loved).

The first say ¾ of the book is fucking incredible, I remember every other page I was stunned at just how sublime the guy's writing was or was stopping in fits of laughter or just to appreciate his exquisite similes...unfortunately the last 100 pages or so dries up a bit and you kind of forget just how great the beginning was. I think once you've basically said that human beings are a bunch of disgusting, vile, lousy pigs you don't have much room to go from there, there's no coming back from it, no redemption for us...just more and more of the same misanthropy which isn't as brightly written and less enjoyable. It gets really rather bleak towards the end and if you were of a melancholic disposition you'd probably end up doing your self in. Really profound but the kind of stuff that's hard to hear and hard to deal with. I suppose we are just pissing, shitting sacks of rotting meat, slowly decaying on an unavoidable journey to oblivion. Christ.
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