Despite the novel, The Fall, being published sixty years ago in 1946, the rare second-person story-telling format Albert Camus implements allows for an imaginary but intellectual continual conversation with the narrator, Jean-Baptiste Clamence. You meet him at a bar called ‘Mexico City’ where drinks are shared and the narrator spills his life story, including his sins. As he discloses his past, intrigue is incited by his stories, whether true or not, they cause one to contemplate. Among his recollection of stories, Clamence inserts truths and adages about human nature and society, including:
‘The truth is that every intelligent man, as you know, drams of being a gangster and of ruling society by force alone.’ (55)
His current profession is a judge-penitent and throughout the novel, he explains the significance of his role as a judge-penitent. At the end, he unravels the underlying motivation for his profession thorough confession as well as the overwhelming satisfaction he receives as a judge-penitent.
‘Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.’ (120)
I first read this book a year ago for religion class but I didn’t read it as thoroughly as I liked. So, I decided to read and reflect on the novel on my own time. It still manages to fascinate me that what Camus expressed sixty years ago is still applicable today. The main theme of the novel is human judgement and how we constantly judge each other in order to feel better about ourselves. Ironically, for the narrator, as Clamence confesses his mistakes and misdeeds, he can be seen as a ‘fallen’ man. However, as he is able to confess his wrongdoings, he is actually able to escape ‘the fall,’ causing his listeners to fall instead.
‘The more I accuse myself, the more I have a right to judge you.’ (140)
We’d recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for a text for thought. Although this novel is short, about 150 pages. It is a heavy book with meaningful and thought-provoking ideas. After each chapter, the reader remains reflecting about Clamence’s stories and choices as well as their own life decisions and experiences.
‘One can be sure of nothing, as I’ve told you.’ (127)