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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Novel
As a dedicated 'Absurdist' I purchased numerous Albert Camus books. The Rebel and The Outsider (also called The Stranger) left me cold. I lost interest in the first few pages due to boredom. The Myth of Sisyphus is fascinating, although the first half is heavy going.
The Fall is outstanding. It was Camus's final work and his crowning achievement. Like Thomas Mann's...
Published on 20 July 2010 by Justice Peace

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2.0 out of 5 stars Falling interest
Told in the second person, the story is a monologue to the reader by the speaker Jean-Baptiste who is a retired lawyer living in Amsterdam. He retells his life story to the reader, and we catch a glimpse of a privileged life: he had good looks, good education, good job, and a good life. Why then is he so miserable?

Albert Camus' novella "The Fall" is...
Published on 15 May 2012 by Sam Quixote


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Novel, 20 July 2010
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
As a dedicated 'Absurdist' I purchased numerous Albert Camus books. The Rebel and The Outsider (also called The Stranger) left me cold. I lost interest in the first few pages due to boredom. The Myth of Sisyphus is fascinating, although the first half is heavy going.
The Fall is outstanding. It was Camus's final work and his crowning achievement. Like Thomas Mann's brilliant Death in Venice, The Fall is short novella and not a word is wasted. In fact I would suggest that no novel need exceed 100 pages. I read the entire book in a day and it was wonderful. I intend reading it many times because it is truly multi-layered and the work of a brilliant mind. On two occasions I found myself laughing out loud at Camus's observations on life's absurdity.
I am unsure if The Fall was written as a play, but it is ideal for the stage because the entire narrative is delivered by its single character, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, who describes himself as a 'Judge-pentitent'. You might notice that Jean-Baptiste is a thinly disguised nom de guerre for John the Baptist. Camus has of course chosen this name for good reason as you will discover. Indeed everything in The Fall has deep and insightful meaning - including the name of the novel.
Clamence is a post-Lapsian (or is it Lapsarian) Parisian lawyer (a fallen angel) living out his days in Amsterdam where he defends criminals in order to sustain his love of gin at his favourite watering hole, a seedy bar called Mexico City. There he meets a visitor to whom he tells his story. And what a story it is!
A central theme of The Fall is Judgement and how quick we are all to judge others, but how we hate to be judged. Camus asks who has the right to judge anyone: inside and outside the law. Religion is also a theme and Camus reminds us that the founder of Christianity was actively non-jugemental but his followers, or at least those who claim to be, have severely judged others to the point of torture and mass murder.
The Fall is packed with metaphor and our Judge-penitent prefers at all times to be physically elevated, looking down on the human 'ants'. A metaphor for the moral high ground of the preacher or courtroom magistrate.
I hope you get the picture. Please read this work of genius. I am off to read it again!
JP (Lapsus) ;)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Nobel prize winning performance, 22 Dec. 2010
By 
spiritus (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Camus is often remembered for Sisyphus and The Outsider but this is his finest hour. This is the book that won him the Nobel prize and was also regarded by Sartre as his best piece of fiction. It is indeed a much greater accomplishment than The Outsider which looks somewhat juvenile in comparison. I was introduced to this book by a philosophy tutor at university. He held it in very high regard. It has become one of my favorite works of fiction. What's the book about? It is about a barrister who gains a reputation as a virtuous and noble man who is always on the side of the underdog. He is feted by his peers and well known among the public at large but just at the peak of his career when he feels a sense of accomplishment with his achievements he has a sudden and shocking spiritual awakening through which he realizes that he is, in fact, an actor, a charlatan and, as he describes himself, a Pharisee. Thus by his own self-judgement he begins to fall from his position of social status because he is no longer able to believe in his formerly self-professed integrity. He has come to live in Amsterdam and is realizing his own salvation by confessing his tale to those who will listen.

This is a genuinely moving book whose motive is to explore what it means to be an authentically virtuous person. In doing so the author makes that quintessentially Christian observation that there is a wide gulf between taking care to create the impression that one is a good person and actually being a good person which takes humility and considerable effort to overcome a tendency towards egoistic self-aggrandizement. This book above all shows the deeply humane values at the heart of Camus' literary enterprise. I should add that I haven't read this particular translation but i can certainly recommend Justin O'Brien's which is still available through Amazon.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly my favourite Camus, 23 Jun. 2009
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
My favourite and arguably Camus's most successfull portrayal of society's absurdities is such a short read - you can finish it in one sitting - but incredibly thought provoking. Following the initially charismatic, egocentric exploits of prominent lawyer Jean Baptiste Clemance and his subsequent fall into obscurity, alcoholism and isolation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Scales Fall, 20 May 2012
This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
It's funny how the things you can never tell your friends, you reveal to a total stranger with much philosophical aplomb. Jean-Baptiste Clamence tells the story of his self-realization to someone he meets in a bar. A story of how a well-to-do lawyer from Paris who thought he had his world by the balls discovered it was the other way round and he afterall is much like the rest of us. We play roles: showing people what we want them to see and being totally insincere. Fascinating.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Existentialist classic, 15 Oct. 2009
By 
G. C. Brown "Neither them nor us" (Co. Down, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This powerful philosophical and psychological novel follows the story of one man's judicial dissection of his own motives and virtues revealing a shocking hypocrisy and ultimately causing a crisis of existence - a fall. As a way of finding some response to the absurdity of life and a need for confession to that which is greater than ourselves, the narrator of the story reveals his ultimate way of coping - as a judge penitent -giving up his freedom and drawing judgements of others through the confession of his own failings and accepting the meaninglessness of existence and the impossibility of truth and innocence. Not one for the "fun" section of your library.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fall, 5 April 2009
By 
Giles Ruffer - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
"This, alas is what I am...but at the same time I hold out to my contemporaries a mirror."

You meet a man in a bar in Amsterdam and he tells you his life philosophy on slavery, freedom, religion, morality and love. Only it isn't you, but himself that he's talking to. Over five days and 100 pages, he goes over his thoughts and contemplates the guilt of seeing a girl jump into the Seine and not jump in after her.

This book is full of memorable lines and reminded me somewhat of Kierkegaard's 'Johannes Climacus' in that it's mostly just philosophical meanderings told through the thoughts of a fictional character. I once heard a Rabbi on transworld sport say "the best example is a living example." In contrast with that statement this book really doesn't stand for anything. But that's not the point.

Camus is a personal favourite and while I don't hold this work in as high a regard as The Plague or The Outsider, The Fall is still a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A false prophet in the desert, 12 Jan. 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Although I read this in French, thus making it harder for me to understand Camus's message yet also getting the benefit of the original language, I hope these comments may be of interest to those reading the book in the English translation.

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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Falling interest, 15 May 2012
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Told in the second person, the story is a monologue to the reader by the speaker Jean-Baptiste who is a retired lawyer living in Amsterdam. He retells his life story to the reader, and we catch a glimpse of a privileged life: he had good looks, good education, good job, and a good life. Why then is he so miserable?

Albert Camus' novella "The Fall" is story I thought I would enjoy more than I did. Looking back on the other Camus books I've read, "The Outsider" is perhaps the only book of his I've halfway enjoyed, though I can't say I was as blown away with it as I expected. "The Plague" was a drag to read, and "The Fall" is unfortunately the same.

While it's intelligent and thoughtful, Camus/Jean-Baptiste's basic theme is that "goodness" or the ideals of life are essentially hollow, which isn't something I necessarily believe nor did it put me off of the book, it's just that the book is the retelling of a pretty bland life in a pretty bland way. It is an existential novel but existentialism was so dull and is now very dated a concept.

The novella is well written but it's neither a captivating read nor as thought-provoking as some readers would have you believe. Academics will probably enjoy it the most, taking it apart one sentence at a time. For the casual reader though, even its relative shortness doesn't make this a quick or enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A review of the book not the novel, 3 April 2014
By 
A. Evans (Jersey, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
The novel is excellent. Leaving that to one side - (who are we to review novels of this nature ?) I will briefly discuss the edition.

Firstly, the book itself is incredibly flimsy. The novel is short (just shy of 100pp) but that is not an excuse for an edition that looks like it came free with a Sunday newspaper. Penguin's dull editions have become a matter of serious irritation for me. Just because something is cheap doesn't mean it has to be ugly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So Good I Read It Twice, 31 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is not a book for those looking for an easy storyline. It demands an open mind, a sense of social history and a willingness to accept an alternative point of view. After having read it, I immediately reread it and began to appreciate Camus' insight into ambition, egotism and arrogance and then, ultimately, the frantic search for some purpose to life when self-doubt punctures the bubble.
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The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Fall (Penguin Modern Classics) by Albert Camus (Paperback - 6 July 2006)
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