When it was published in 1932, this then-shocking and revolutionary first fiction redefined the art of the novel with its black humor, its nihilism, and its irreverent, explosive writing style, and made Louis-Ferdinand Celine one of France's--and literature's--most important 20th-Century writers. The picaresque adventures of Bardamu, the sarcastic and brilliant antihero ofJourney to the End of the Nightmove from the battlefields of World War I (complete with buffoonish officers and cowardly soldiers), to French West Africa, the United States, and back to France in a style of prose that's lyrical, hallucinatory, and hilariously scathing toward nearly everybody and everything. Yet, beneath it all one can detect a gentle core of idealism.
This novel, despite the blurb on its cover touting its "scabrous nihilism," actually winds up also affirming our struggle to keep such nihilism at bay. As we read on pg. 189: "What with being chucked out of everywhere, you're sure to find whatever it is that scares all those bastards so. It must be the end of the night, and that's why they're so dead set against going to the end of the night." The start reminds me of the post-WWI antiwar novel by Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front," or the … more