Print this post Print this post

Céline on Journey to the End of the Night

876 words

Translated by Mitch Abidor

celinewithdogTranslator’s Note:

Prior to its publication Céline shopped the manuscript of Journey to the End of the Night around to a couple of publishers. He wrote the following summary of the book to the prestigious Gallimard publishing house, but before they could agree to publish it he had already accepted the offer of Denoël et Steele. 

To NRF, shortly before April 14, 1932

Monsieur:

I submit to you my manuscript “Journey to the End of the Night” (five years of work).

I would be particularly grateful if you would tell me as soon as possible if you want to publish it and under what conditions

You ask me to provide you with a summary of this book. In truth, it’s a bizarre task you ask me to accomplish and I would never have thought of it. You might say it’s time I did. I don’t know why, but I don’t feel capable of doing it. (A little like the divers we see in films who splash out of the water onto the jetty…)  I’m going to try to do it but without being fancy about it. I don’t think my summary will make you want to read the book.

In fact, this “Journey to the End of the Night” is a novelized tale written in a singular form, of which there are not many examples in literature in general. This wasn’t the way I wanted it. But that’s how it is. It’s a kind of literary, emotive symphony more than a real novel. The pitfall of this genre is boredom. I don’t think my thing is boring. From the emotional point of view this tale is close to what we get – or should get – from music. It stays at the edge of emotions and words, of precise representations, except at the accented moments, which are mercilessly precise.

From which flows a number of diversions that little by little join in with the theme and finally make it sing like a musical composition. All of this is quite pretentious and worse than ridiculous if the work has failed. I leave it to you to judge. For my part it’s a success. This is the way I view people and things. Too bad for them.

The intrigue is both complex and simple. It also belongs to the operatic genre. (This isn’t a recommendation!) It’s a great fresco of populist lyricism, of communism with a soul, and so mischievous, full of life.

The tale begins on the Place Clichy at the beginning of the war and ends fifteen years later at the Clichy festival. 700 pages of voyages around the world, men and the night, and love, especially love, which I hunt down, ruin, and which comes out of this tired, deflated, defeated . . . Crime, delirium, Dostoevskyism: there is something of everything in my thing, to learn from and to be amused by.

The Facts

Robinson, my friend, some kind of worker, goes off to war (I think the war in his stead [1]), he flees from battles some way or another . . . he goes to tropical Africa . . . then to America . . . descriptions . . . descriptions . . . sensations . . . Everywhere and always he is ill at ease (romanticism, the evil of the twenty-first century [2]). Confused, he returns to France . . . he’s had it with traveling, with being exploited wherever he goes and with dying of inhibitions and hunger. He’s a modern proletarian.  He’s going to decide to kill an old woman so that he can finally have a small amount of capital, that is, the starting point of freedom. He fails to kill her, the old lady, the first time. He wounds himself. He temporarily blinds himself. Since the old lady’s family was in cahoots with him they are all sent to the south of France in order to stifle the affair. It’s the old lady who now takes care of him. In the south they engage in a strange form of commerce. They exhibit mummies in a cellar (this brings in money). Robinson begins to see again. He gets engaged to a young woman from Toulouse. He’s going to fall into normal life. But in order for life to be normal you have to have some capital. And so he again gets the idea to knock off the old woman. And this time he doesn’t fail. She’s good and dead. He and his future wife are going to inherit. Bourgeois happiness awaits. But something prevents him from settling into bourgeois happiness, into love and material security. Something! Ah! Ah! And this something is the entire novel! Attention! He flees his fiancée and happiness. She chases after him him. She makes a scene after scene. Jealous scenes. She is the eternal woman confronting the new man . . . She kills him.

All this is perfectly presented. Under no conditions do I want this subject swiped from me. This is fodder for a century of literature. It’s the Prix Goncourt 1932 in an armchair for the happy publisher who will grab this peerless work [3], this capital moment of human nature . . .

With my best regards

Louis Destouches

Notes

1. In the original manuscript the characters of Robinson and Bardamu are reversed.

2. Typo for twentieth century

3. The novel failed – barely – to win the Goncourt

Source: http://chiseler.org/post/63315115433/celine-on-journey-to-the-end-of-the-night

 

 

If you enjoyed this piece, and wish to encourage more like it, give a tip through Paypal. You can earmark your tip directly to the author or translator, or you can put it in a general fund. (Be sure to specify which in the "Add special instructions to seller" box at Paypal.)
This entry was posted in North American New Right and tagged , , , , , . Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

One Comment

  1. Charles Martel
    Posted October 11, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Very cool. I always appreciate the at first seemingly innocuous topics, then to later realize they are essential.

    Nice post.

    Kindle Subscription
  • EXSURGO Apparel

    Our Titles

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (2nd ed.)

    The Hypocrisies of Heaven

    Waking Up from the American Dream

    Green Nazis in Space!

    Truth, Justice, and a Nice White Country

    Heidegger in Chicago

    The End of an Era

    Sexual Utopia in Power

    What is a Rune? & Other Essays

    Son of Trevor Lynch's White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    The Lightning & the Sun

    The Eldritch Evola

    Western Civilization Bites Back

    New Right vs. Old Right

    Lost Violent Souls

    Journey Late at Night: Poems and Translations

    The Non-Hindu Indians & Indian Unity

    Baader Meinhof ceramic pistol, Charles Kraaft 2013

    Jonathan Bowden as Dirty Harry

    The Lost Philosopher, Second Expanded Edition

    Trevor Lynch's A White Nationalist Guide to the Movies

    And Time Rolls On

    The Homo & the Negro

    Artists of the Right

    North American New Right, Vol. 1

    Forever and Ever

    Some Thoughts on Hitler

    Tikkun Olam and Other Poems

    Under the Nihil

    Summoning the Gods

    Hold Back This Day

    The Columbine Pilgrim

    Confessions of a Reluctant Hater

    Taking Our Own Side

    Toward the White Republic

    Distributed Titles

    Tyr, Vol. 4

    Reuben

    The Node

    Axe

    Carl Schmitt Today

    A Sky Without Eagles

    The Way of Men

    Generation Identity

    Nietzsche's Coming God

    The Conservative

    The New Austerities

    Convergence of Catastrophes

    Demon

    Proofs of a Conspiracy

    Fascism viewed from the Right

    Notes on the Third Reich

    Morning Crafts

    New Culture, New Right

    The Fourth Political Theory

    Can Life Prevail?

    The Metaphysics of War

    Fighting for the Essence

    The Arctic Home in the Vedas

    Asatru: A Native European Spirituality

    The Shock of History

    The Prison Notes

    Sex and Deviance

    Standardbearers

    On the Brink of the Abyss

    Beyond Human Rights

    A Handbook of Traditional Living

    Why We Fight

    The Problem of Democracy

    Archeofuturism

    The Path of Cinnabar

    Tyr

    The Lost Philosopher

    Impeachment of Man

    Gold in the Furnace

    Defiance

    The Passing of a Profit & Other Forgotten Stories

    Revolution from Above