Jean-Baptiste Clamence, his name a wordplay on "John the Baptist crying in the wilderness" buttonholes strangers in a seedy Amsterdam bar to tell them of his fall from grace as a successful Parisian lawyer to a man obsessed with his two-faced duplicity and his moral guilt worse in some ways than that of a common criminal. His psychological crisis has been triggered by another fall, that of a young woman into the Seine, whom he did nothing to save when he heard her cries. The question is, would he do any better if this incident were to be repeated?
The tale is full of digressions and twisted logic, witty, at times contradictory quotations. It is not surprising that there are differing, often opposed or confusing, interpretations of this philosophical fable, based on the ideas of absurdism, defined as the conflict between the human desire to find value and meaning in life and the inability to find it. A fascinating issue raised by Camus is how to lead a moral life if one is unable to believe in a god, but all attempts to make rules about right and wrong are arbitrary.
Having read some passages two or three times, I am still working to understand this book. For me it is a satire in which Clamence goes off the rails at the end as a kind of crazy, manic devil in a magnificently written final section. My take is that Clamence is on the wrong track with his desire to judge and control. The ability to accept one's own inevitable shortcomings is clearly key, but what if one is given to the level of excess of the highly self-indulgent and unlikeable Clamence?
One's understanding of this book is clearly increased by some knowledge of Christianity and the alternatives of communism, humanism and existentialism all of which Camus seems to lambast at some point, along with bourgeois complacency. This begs the question as to how much a truly great book should have some self-evident meaning without the aid of this knowledge. It seems to me that Camus was still working ideas out for himself in this book, and that at the end some were still incomplete.Read more ›
I bought this very short novel by Camus as a gift for a French-speaking friend, having read it myself a thousand years ago as a college student. I give it a 5-star rating because of its importance to me throughout the years since -- it answers the question as to why people are not truthful with themselves and why they cannot admit when they have been wrong about something or have made a mistake. I would give it a much lower rating for being entertaining.
A man face to face with his life, afraid of the fall. An introspection rather than a confession which lead the reader to his own reflection, guided by the underlying philosophy of Camus' "The myth of Sisyphus".
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com:4.8 out of 5 stars 4 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 starsAuthentically Camus16 Feb 2000
By la - Published on Amazon.com
This spare and lucid novella is one of Camus' finest. The extended monologue format is intriguing, and the fact that it was a rather nasty send-up of many of the existentialists with whom Camus had had a falling-out was especially marvelous. One is reminded of Dostoevsky's The Underground but, Camus' message is far easier to swallow. La Chute can't help but confirm Camus' brilliance as a writer.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 starsEl mejor libro de Albert Camus, una verdadera obra de arte14 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Un libro excepecional, tanto por el argumento como por la forma en que esta escrito. Un agudo analisis de la sociedad y del hombre. Para leer varias veces. Lei un comentario en Amazon sobre este libro que decia que la historia era poco creible pero que lo recomendaba porque tenia pocas paginas. Una verdadera estupidez. ¿De donde saco este buen señor que la historia tiene que ser creible? ¿Y si la historia fuese lo de menos? ¿Se puede recomendar un libro solo porque tiene pocas paginas? ¿Es que acaso "Los demonios" de Dostoyevski, o "Los Hermanos Karamazov" no son recomendables porque tienen mas de 700 paginas?
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 starsGood24 July 2012
By Pete - Published on Amazon.com
Quality of book was as described, used but still has a few more years ahead of it. It was shipped relatively quickly, so that's cool.
Great read, quick, and fairly easy for intermediate french learner.
Would purchase again from this retailer.
1 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 starsa man tels his lifetime story to another frenchman in a cafe10 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
the book is good written but the story itsselfs is a bit dull and also a bit unbelievebale but i recommend anybody to read this book for school because the book has only 77 pages!!!!!