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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
34
4.1 out of 5 stars


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) ;)
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on 9 June 2015
The best thing about this book is the narrative style, ie the monologue 'confession' to the chance acquaintance. Camus delves deeply into the human condition and there are some good insights about judging and being judged etc, but this is dry, rambling and lacking in vitality. I finished the book because it is very short, but had it been any longer I would probably have given up. I like the idea of the utterly honest confession to a stranger by a man who has 'fallen' and has nothing much to lose, but for the most part it doesn't make good reading. It's actually boring and depressing to read; almost anti-life.
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on 22 December 2010
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. The Fall brings to fruition and refinement themes that Camus was groping for adequate expression in his earlier literary works. It was his last major work before his tragic early death at the age of forty-six.

The Fall recounts the story of 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.
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VINE VOICEon 30 March 2014
I would recommend _The Fall_, a
first person narrative of a barrister, a fellow
with an exceedingly high self-opinion. Through his actions and
thoughts, we soon discover he is flawed, and by the end of the book wonder whether he is not indeed entirely dissolute.

It is short pithy book written in beautiful, simple text, but with much food for thought.

The philosophical debate that this book
engenders relates to a famous painting from whence
the title of the novel is derived, which has
caused endless speculation about Camus' interpretation of the nature of 'integrity' and its corollary, 'corruption'
(the first person narrative is a barrister, after all).

As a highly stylised comment on hypocrisy and self-worth,
it is pure brilliance.

Highly readable.
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on 13 January 2017
I found this to be Camus's funniest and best book.
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on 26 April 2017
Kind of hard to read but interesting
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on 9 April 2015
just right, exactly as ordered
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on 8 August 2015
Well Albert,s always gonna fall , in the right direction
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on 23 June 2009
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 January 2014
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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