Albert Camus – The Fall (1956)

The Fall (French: La Chute) is a philosophical novel by Albert Camus. First published in 1956, it is his last complete work of fiction. Set in Amsterdam, The Fall consists of a series of dramatic monologues by the self-proclaimed ‘judge-penitent’ Jean-Baptiste Clamence, as he reflects upon his life to a stranger. In what amounts to a confession, Clamence tells of his success as a wealthy Parisian defense lawyer who was highly respected by his colleagues. His crisis, and his ultimate ‘fall’ from grace, was meant to invoke, in secular terms, the fall of man from the Garden of Eden. The Fall explores themes of innocence, imprisonment, non-existence, and truth. In a eulogy to Albert Camus, existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre described the novel as ‘perhaps the most beautiful and the least understood’ of Camus’ books. Clamence often speaks of his love for high, open places — everything from mountain peaks to the top decks of boats. ‘I have never felt comfortable,’ he explains, ‘except in lofty surroundings. Even in the details of daily life, I need to feel above’. Then it is paradoxical that Clamence leads his cher ami away from the human symmetries of a picturesque town to sit on a level, seaside expanse. The location of Amsterdam, as a city below sea-level, therefore assumes particular significance in relation to the narrator. Moreover, Amsterdam is generally described in The Fall as a cold, wet place where a thick blanket of fog constantly hangs over the crowded, neon-light-lined streets. Beside the atmosphere (which could be established almost anywhere else) the city also was chosen by Camus for a more peculiar reason. … The ‘last circle of hell’ is the site of Amsterdam’s red-light district and the location of a bar named Mexico City, which Clamence frequents nightly, and where the bulk of his narrative gradually unfolds. (The bar, Mexico City, did exist in Amsterdam.) …”
Smithsonian: Why is Albert Camus Still a Stranger in His Native Algeria?
Analysis of Albert Camus’s The Fall
YouTube: The Fall by Albert Camus, an animated summary

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