Celine: Journey to the End of the Night (Summary)

Journey to the End of the Nightis the first and most famous novel by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. Beyond the stylistic revolution brought by Celine, this is a novel of initiation in which Bardamu, the hero, will learn the misery and emptiness of existence.Summary of Journey to the End of the Night by CelineBardamu joined the army and accidentally discovers the horror of World War I, but became friends with Robinson, his brother in arms. Wounded and reformed, he attended a few women of low (Lola, Musyne) and then left France for Africa. There he finds the brutality of colonial life. Bardamu contracted a tropical disease and is transported by ship UNTIL the United States. He visited New York and Detroit, where he was hired as a worker at Ford. The discovery of life does not stop working to bind temporarily to Molly, a prostitute. But he returned to France to become a doctor at Drancy, a poor city. There he discovers the daily misery, death and greed. Tired of the patients, he joined a troupe of music hall, while Robinson, who met a woman (Madelon), became blind. He returned to Paris to work in a psychiatric hospital. Dr. Baritone, who runs the establishment, goes mad. Robinson will be killed by his mistress, leaving Bardamu alone.

Analysis of Journey to the End of the Night by Celine

The Journey describes the metaphysical wanderings of men condemned to the absurdity of life and human folly. Deeply misanthropic and nihilistic, the thesis of the novel can be summarized as follows: Man has no place of comfort, life, as the metaphor of journey is useless.

Celine looks at all human illusions: the nation, technological progress, order, love,

Celine and  War

The nation, nationalism and passion, causes of war, in which men kill each other. The trip is from this point of view a plea for pacifism. Bardamu between cowardice in the spirit of heroism. Through cowardice, it’s the survival instinct that expresses itself.

The military is also ridiculed: superiors are portrayed as worse than the enemy himself.

Celine and Subjectivity

Celine has a conception of the subject based on subjectivity. Men are spectators of their own lives: Bardamu committed in the war unwittingly left Africa in a state of madness, directs the psychiatric hospital involuntarily … men are tossed by life, without being able take control. This vision of subjectivity has its sosurce affected in Cartesian, especially Malebranche and Leibniz.

Celine and Colonialism

The episode reflects the African anti-colonialism of Celine. He described a savage domination of the local settlers. He paints the colonial world as a rotten world, plagued by alcoholism and low blows, between settlers and between settlers and natives. The so-called civilization brought by the West is a lie. This criticism is particularly taken up by Sartre in his preface to the Wretched of the Earth has Fanon.

Celine and Capitalism

The critique of capitalism acts in the American episode. Bardamu is employed in a factory Ford. There he discovers the condition of the mind-numbing assembly line work. Recalling some of the pages of Marx, Celine protests against the dehumanization of working life, showing how the abundance of capitalism is built on the misery of the workers.
Journey to the End of the Night is the story of human misery, social, psychological and metaphysical, that Bardamu meeting wherever he goes, from the trenches to the psychiatric hospital. This trip Bardamu not yield much, except for the observation of the decay of life.

The journey to the end of the night is undoubtly one of the most interesting book of the twentieth century, because of its existentialist approach of the human condition.

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