Highlights for Journey to the End of the Night

Maybe our colonel knew why they were shooting, maybe the Germans knew, but I, so help me, hadn’t the vaguest idea. As far back as I could search my memory, I hadn’t done a thing to the Germans, I’d always treated them friendly and polite.

All that tangled meat was bleeding profusely.

The one thing any of us really cared about was living for one more hour, one more hour is a big deal in a world where everything has reduced itself to murder.

Which proves that if you want people to think you’re normal there’s nothing like having an all-fired nerve. If you’ve got plenty of nerve, you’re all set, because then you’re entitled to do practically anything at all, you’ve got the majority on your side, and it’s the majority who decide what’s crazy and what isn’t.

In bed, though, she was superb, we came back again and again, and the pleasure she purveyed was real. She may have been a slut, but at least she was a real one. To give royal pleasure they’ve got to be. In the kitchens of love, after all, vice is like the pepper in a good sauce; it brings out the flavor, it’s indispensable.

I hadn’t found out yet that mankind consists of two very different races, the rich and the poor. It took me … and plenty of other people … twenty years and the war to learn to stick to my class and ask the price of things before touching them, let alone setting my heart on them.

A few poetic regrets, if adroitly placed, are as becoming to a woman as gossamer hair in the moonlight.

When men can hate without risk, their stupidity is easily convinced, the motives supply themselves.

The Alaskan dog teams are invaluable. Since they are always needed, they are well cared for. Whereas nobody gives a damn about immigrants, of whom there are always too many.

In that state of undress, belching and worse, gesticulating like lunatics, they settled down in the fecal grotto.

Then and there, perhaps, you’d throw off the exhausting habit of dreaming about successful people and enormous fortunes, because then you’d be able to put your hands on all that. The life of people without resources is nothing but one long rebuff and one long frenzy of desire, and a man can truly know, truly deliver himself only from what he possesses.

Lola was pacing the floor without many clothes on, and in spite of everything her body still struck me as very desirable. Where there’s a luxurious body there’s always a possibility of rape, of a direct, violent breaking and entering into the heart of wealth and luxury, with no fear of having to return the loot.

But it was too late to start being young again. I didn’t believe in it anymore. We grow old so quickly and, what’s more, irremediably. You can tell by the way you start loving your misery in spite of yourself. Nature is stronger than we are, no two ways about it. She tries us in one particular mold, and we’re never able to throw it off. I had started out as the restless type. Little by little, without realizing it, you begin to take your role and fate seriously, and before you know it, it’s too late to change. You’re a hundred-percent restless, and it’s set that way for good.

People avenge themselves for the favors done them.

We were all in the same boat now. The priest would have to learn to walk in the dark like the rest of us. He was still unsteady on his pins. He asked me what he should do to keep from falling. He didn’t have to come if he was afraid. We’d get to the end together, and then we’d know what we’d been looking for in our adventure. That’s what life is, a bit of light that ends in darkness.

No good hoping to drop off your misery somewhere on the way. Misery is like some horrible woman you’ve married. Maybe it’s better to end up loving her a little than to knock yourself out beating her all your life. Since obviously you won’t be able to bump her off.

A day that’s nothing more than a lapse of twenty-four hours is intolerable. Like it or not, a day should be one long, almost unbearable pleasure, one long coitus.

Did Jesus Christ go to the toilet in front of everybody? It seems to me his racket wouldn’t have lasted very long if he’d taken a shit in public.

I can’t deny that I felt sad as I started back to Vigny at the thought that all those people, those houses, those dirty, dingy, dismal things no longer spoke to me at all, no longer spoke straight to my heart as they had in the old days, and that, chipper as I might seem, I quite possibly didn’t have the strength to go on much further like that alone.

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