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The Fall Paperback – May 7 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (May 7 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679720227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679720225
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.1 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 136 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By MR G. Rodgers on Feb. 18 2003
Format: Paperback
"The Fall" is a short, interesting and challenging novel (I suppose it might be better described as a reflective novella). In Amsterdam, the ex-lawyer Jean-Baptiste Clamence meets a fellow Frenchman in a seedy bar, and proceeds to give a account of his fall from social eminence.
The book is told in the form of a monologue by Clamence, but Camus loads it with plenty of imagery - conveying the atmosphere both of Amsterdam and of Paris. Clamence takes his acquaintance back to the time when he was a successful lawyer, then tells of his growing guilt at his self-indulgent philanthropy. Thereafter, there's a decline into moral impotence and a rejection of social and moral norms as he views his life and actions as essentially meaningless.
Much of this is pretty deep stuff, and I thought that I could give "The Fall" a second and third reading and still get a lot out of it. What was Camus's message in the novel? Well, it might be a savage critique of the veneer of altruism beneath which the wealthy operate - indeed does social snobbery rather than genuine concern truly underpin their acts of charity? Yet I felt that Camus balked at Clamence's nihilism because it was too destructive of the self and of others. Perhaps he thought that greater honesty and realism need to be tempered by/encouraged by greater humanity. Each reader will have their own take. But at least this fine book has value precisely because it provokes such thoughts.
G Rodgers
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Format: Paperback
The Fall by Albert Camus is a short, disturbing work about the "fallen" life of Jean-Baptiste Clamence, the narrator of the story. The entire work is actually Clamence's own narrative, which makes reading it more like listening to a type of confession; at the very least it is like being on the recieving end of a conversation.
As the title indicates, this books plays off of Christian themes heavily. The very idea of "the fall" is a fundamentally Christian notion of lost innocence (which is very much at the heart of this work); "Jean-Baptiste" - "John [the] Baptist" in English - describes himself as a type of prophet crying in the wilderness but refusing to come forth; the bar he frequents is described as a church (and one could argue that, by extension, his life in the bar is something of a participation in an inverted communion); entire discussions about redemption, forgiveness, and repentance fill the pages of this work.
Despite all of its religious imagery and imagination, however, it is a work that is completely devoid of any notions of real redemption, forgiveness or love. Clamence's/Camus' view is basically that this world is, indeed, fallen but that there is nothing else.
It is interesting that an entire discussion about the death of God takes place within this book. As Camus - like Nietzsche before him - notes, without God all meaning and transcendence is lost. The picture Camus paints of such a world is indeed compelling if God is dead; as Clamence says - tragically - at the end of the book, he would permit himself everything all over again but without laughter the next time.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the most evocative and reflective novels I have ever read. The novel chronicles the confession of Jean-Baptiste Clemence, a former hotshot Parisian lawyer, to an unknown, unspeaking companion. In his monologue, delivered over a period of several days, Jean tells of his old life and how he came to leave it. Jean tells his silent listener of how he had once been successful, admired, philanthropic, and content in his old life, even though his secret motive was to feel superior to those around him. Jean's life began to change when he came to the realisation that his apparent altruism arose out of his own self absorbtion and desire to be admired. As Jean's confession continues he tells how he was pushed out of his comfortable life by guilt over having not chosen to save the life of a woman who he encountered just as she was about to commit suicide, and, following that, the constant weight of judgement all around him. Jean talks of how judgement and guilt hounded him until he could no longer evade them. His confession is a way of facing self judgement and the judgement of others.
There is much reflection on morality, self-absobtion, the need to feel dominant, and the judgement and guilt that must be endured by each of us. It is woven around a complex core of philosophy (much of which is, admittedly, beyond my grasp) that gives the story great depth. I thoroughly enjoyed the introspective, thoughtful tone of the book. The thing that I truly reveled in, though, was Camus' spare yet eloquent imagery. The scene that Camus paints of Amsterdam, where the book is set, is incredibly suggestive and subtle. For another example, Jean compares Paris to an enourmous stage set, inhabited by silouettes consumed by pursuit of ideas and sex.
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Format: Paperback
A self-described 'judge-penitent', met in a cosmopolitan bar in Amsterdam, tells us the story of his life in this evocative, yet deeply introspective novel by existential philosopher Albert Camus. The narrator is an intelligent, voluble, fanciful man, who had been a lawyer in his former life, never doubting that he was an essentially good person, fulfilling more than his share of charitable, even altruistic duties, and even taking great pleasure in the realization that he was a better man than most... at least until an incident on a bridge in November taught him that he was not so remarkable a man after all. After this experience, his self-confidence and self-image are shattered, as is his overall perception of humanity in general. Unable to go on as he had been, he re-invents himself as part of a plan to try to give meaning to the remains of his broken life.
While not as much of a 'downer' book as the above synopsis may sound to some, this is a very sobering story for those who have given little thought to their own moral position in the world. The narrator's fall from ignorant bliss is universal, or at least common enough that it should strike a disturbing chord with most readers. Still, the story is perhaps not entirely without hope, and is, of course, told in descriptive language that evokes urban Europe while providing settings that carefully dictate mood and theme as well. The structure of the essentially one-sided conversation is powerfully riveting, and helps keep this book a quick read despite its weightiness, but the structure is also functional within the context of the story, since the purpose is to convert the reader to the narrator's viewpoint. Whether this technical tour-de-force actually changes one's life or not, readers should be prompted to re-examine their own lives and values, which in itself can hardly be a bad thing. This book is not challenging reading, but it challenges the way we live and perceive ourselves.
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