Albert Camus — The Fall

I have ceased to like anything but confessions, and authors of confessions write especially to avoid confessing, to tell nothing of what they know. When they claim to get to the painful admissions, you have to watch out, for they are about to dress the corpse

So confesses the nameless protagonist of Albert Camus’ The Fall, a former criminal defense lawyer who after a lifetime of reaching both the highs and lows of his personal and professional life, is doing exactly that as he confesses to the author of the book–dressing the corpse. His voice is the triumph of the novel, confident, seductive, even as he flippantly details the most awful actions and lack of concern for them. It is an arresting voice, see the paragraph below as an example of the moments of lyrical beauty shoved into the constant solipsism:

Paris is far; Paris is beautiful; I haven’t forgotten it. I remember its twilights at about this same season. Everything falls, dry and rustling, over the roofs blue with smoke, the city rumbles, the river seems to flow backward. Then I used to wander in the streets. They wander now, too, I know! They wander, pretending to hasten toward the tired wife, the forbidding home… Ah, mon ami, do you know what the solitary creature is like as he wanders in big cities?…

This is an arresting novel, not because of the plot but because of the narrator’s magnatism, his strange and fully realized character. You follow intently along with the equally unnamed and silent listener as he describes his dislike of depths, the ironic presentiment to his eventual fall to those very same depths–both moral and physical. It is a strange little book, but an absorbing one, that leaves you just a little uneasy after finishing it.

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1 Comment

Filed under Books, Review

One response to “Albert Camus — The Fall

  1. I love feeling uneasy after a great book, so I love Camus. If you’re at all a fan of that feeling, I suggest Kobo Abe. The Box Man is challenging and interesting, with an unusual lack of distinction between characters that leaves you in a constant state of near-confusion that is also a major source of excitement, while Woman in the Dunes is more conservatively styled and almost a thriller while still being every bit as contemplative and meaningful as Camus.

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