Top positive review
29 people found this helpful
on 20 July 2010
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) ;)