Journey to the End of the Night

Journey to the End of the Night (French: Voyage au bout de la nuit, 1932) is the first novel by Louis-Ferdinand Céline. This semi-autobiographical work follows the life of Ferdinand Bardamu.

Journey to the End of the Night
Journey to the End of the Night cover.jpg
First English-language edition
(publ. New Directions, 1934)
Cover art by Alvin Lustig & Quigley)
AuthorLouis-Ferdinand Céline
Original titleVoyage au bout de la nuit
TranslatorJohn H. P. Marks (1934), Ralph Manheim (1988)
Publication date

It tells the story of Bardamu and his doppelgänger Robinson in a grotesque journey through life, through the world and through death. Bardamu survives the First World War, wanders through the jungles of colonial Africa, lives in the unnatural world of industrial America, and heals the poor in a Parisian suburb, all the while constantly encountering Robinson.

Literary styleEdit

Céline's first novel is remarkable for its style, making extensive use of ellipsis and hyperbole. His writing has the flow of natural speech patterns and uses the vernacular, while also employing more erudite elements. This has influenced French literature considerably. The novel enjoyed popular success and a fair amount of critical acclaim when it was published in October 1932. The critic Albert Thibaudet said in January 1933 that it was still a common topic of conversation at dinner parties in Paris.[1]

Influence and legacyEdit

Among writers in English indebted to the novel was Will Self, who claimed that it, more than any other, inspired him to write fiction.[2] Céline's literary style also greatly influenced Joseph Heller's Catch-22;[3] others influenced by him include Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski (who references Journey in a number of his works).[4]

Jacques Tardi illustrated the 1988 edition with 130 drawings.[5] In 2003 the novel was ranked 51st on The Guardian's list of "100 Greatest Novels of All Time".[6]

Paolo Sorrentino's 2013 film The Great Beauty (La grande bellezza) opens with a quote from Journey to the End of the Night. The film concludes with a visual of the last paragraph of the book, passing under bridges, arches, and locks along the city's river.[7]

Publication historyEdit

  • Céline, Louis-Ferdinand (1983). Journey to the End of the Night. Manheim, Ralph (trans.). New York: New Directions. ISBN 978-0-8112-0847-5.
  • Céline, Louis-Ferdinand (1988). Journey to the End of the Night. Manheim, Ralph (trans.). London: Calder. ISBN 978-0-7145-4139-6.
  • Sturrock, John (1990). Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Journey to the End of the Night. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-37854-0.
  • Céline, Louis-Ferdinand (2006). Vollmann, William T. (afterward) (ed.). Journey to the End of the Night. Translated by Ralph Manheim. New York: New Directions. ISBN 978-0-8112-1654-8.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Henri Godard, "Notice", in Céline, Romans, vol. 1 [Paris: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, 1981], p. 1262.
  2. ^ Will Self (10 September 2006). "Céline's Dark Journey". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
  3. ^ Gussow, Mel (29 April 1998). "Critic's Notebook; Questioning the Provenance of the Iconic 'Catch-22'". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  4. ^ Kim Wilsher, "Céline: French literary genius or repellent antisemite?", The Observer, 13 March 2016
  5. ^ Mintzer, Jordan. "'April and the Extraordinary World' ('Avril et le monde truque'): Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  6. ^ McCrum, Robert (12 October 2003). "The 100 greatest novels of all time: The list". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  7. ^ De Marco, Camillo (21 May 2013). "The Great Beauty: a journey to the end of the night". Cineuropa. Retrieved 6 August 2018.