Disarmingly, the entire text of The Fall is addressed directly to the reader, screened behind an anonymous stranger a man named Clamence chances to meet in an Amsterdam bar. The story of Clamence's life, his childhood and eventual career as a respected lawyer in Paris, his fall from grace and relocation to the slums of Amsterdam, as he tells it - with startling honesty and brutal directness - is the subject of the novel. For Clamence has discovered his vocation as a judge-penitent, making of his own wretchedness a magnifying mirror in which others can see themselves, their own imperfections and their own guilt. He offers no hope of redemption or regeneration, only the mercy that comes from the recognition of our common humanity as totally depraved, the brotherhood of the fallen.
Clamence's is not so much a moral as an immoral universe, one where every crusading defender of the poor is motivated by the self-satisfaction this gives him, every lover of women driven by an urge to conquer and possess, everyone a hero until their heroism actually threatens their well-being or self-image. It is a worldview obviously influenced by Camus' own experience of occupation and collaboration. Yet it is also self-defeating, as Clamence's personal sacrifices in pursuit of the truth about himself contradict his own thesis.
Camus’s short novel reads as a monologue, narrated by the protagonist of the story, Clamence. His past is immersed in guilt and shame as he spills out his painful memories. As he confesses more and more, he reveals the moral consequences he faces as a result of continual wavering over decisions. While reflecting on his past, his lies and contradictions become apparent. He tries to escape judgment from others by calling his own ethics and values into question. Camus essentially surrenders his morality through Clamence to demonstrate an individual who is trying to attain absolute freedom. However, in Clamence’s case, he fails to identify intentions with consequences, and he succumbs to nihilistic fantasies of the world. Often one of Camus’s overlooked works, The Fall probes the human condition as succinctly and emotionally as any of his books.
A great novella, it can take its place between "Master And Man", "Hadji Murad", and "Chronicle Of A Death Foretold". Moves from a blabbering guy in a bar in Amsterdam through unreliable narration, using an increasing number of aphorisms, each developing on the previous one to address matters of life and death, good and evil, and responsibility. On the one hand one can see it as a portrait of disgraceful man and on the other a careful refraction of the soul of the reader.
"The portrait that this holds out to our contemporaries becomes a mirror." Accepted . . . with a shudder.
BTW the band, The Fall, originally called something else, took their name from this book
Absolutely one of Camus' very best works--a neglected masterpiece. Note that the form of the book--direct address to the reader, therefore a monologue--is the same as that of the new novel "The Meursault Investigation", by Kamel Daoud, which is a reply to and a meditation on, Camus' "The Stranger". Also a must-read.
Camus is a great writer and thinker. My 3.5 stars here is just a personal reaction to this book. The long rambling confessional was easy enough to read, but I can't say I enjoyed it or saw much of value in it. Again it's personal. I'm in no way claiming it is not great literature. That I do not know.
A former Parisian lawyer in Amsterdam reflects on his life as he hangs outs drinking gin. Never having married, he's extremely egotistical with regard to his own omni-potence and superiority. Written in 1st person, this is a 'stream of consiousness,' kind of novel, addressed to the reader in a very personal manner. Not much action, but the book is interesting.
This book was horrible for me. I read the Stranger before it which was great but didn't live up to the hype. I gave up after 80 pages on this one. It just felt like a huge waste of time. It was one of those books you feel like you are forcing yourself to read just so you can say that you have read it in conversations. There is no worthwhile plot, just inner monologue and its not a book your gonna read for fun. I think this is one of those books for the intellectual crowd but not for the common man.
One of my favorites. This is the one book I picked up in the original French while in Paris. Actually set in Amsterdam, in a bar, this is the wandering tale of a modern man at odds with the world. Stop into the bar and hear his tale delivered in charming confidential dialogues.
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