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The Fall by Albert Camus
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The Fall (1956)

by Albert Camus

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4,99248910 (3.88)1 / 108
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English (40)  French (3)  Danish (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (48)
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4.5 ( )
  e-b | Mar 11, 2015 |
Penguin Modern Classics ed., translated by Robin Buss

Self-important French twunt drones on about his self-importance, bouts of shame and fall from grace, in Amsterdam bar and environs.

As mentioned quite a few times before, I'm tired of this sort of narrator, though I see how it has more literary complexity than a monologue by a nicer person. (I only read it just now because the book's under 100 pages.) His rambles are addressed to a hypothetical listener and companion, who must be a saint, one of his best friends (the former probably required for the latter) or being paid to hear them. I didn’t miss the bit at the end in which he mentions how he adapts his account to the listener, or his conceit / hope of acting as their confessor /absolver by telling his own story.

It's curious to see many reviews referring to the possibility of the reader seeing themselves in this narrative. This is a humbling attitude to unreliable narrators which I pretty much grew up with, and which always seemed to be a significant value attributed to them by critics and academics - but which I've otherwise virtually never seen on GR except as some furtive confessional. Where instead these characters tend to be vilified unambiguously and othered, thereby making a reader who considered they were doing the right thing by examining themselves for similarities to a narrator who's often acted worse than they ever have, feel entirely rotten.

The Fall was a drag to read; as a first-person study of this type of personality, I prefer David Foster Wallace’s ‘Good Old Neon’, or a little more tangentially, Portnoy’s Complaint - both of which I found infinitely more engaging. Clamence's life hasn't exactly been unusual for a man of his age and class found in literary writing, and his supercilious tone detracts from what might have been points of interest.

It wasn’t entirely without those; gorgeous descriptions of Paris and Amsterdam, and there are some good observations of people. So many I’d seen before in portraits of similar characters though: this could be a case of a classic being samey for a reader who comes to it late, having already read plenty of works it’s inspired. The bits about Christianity towards the end were more novel. And I think if The Fall were encountered by someone who was newly mired in the shame of realisation that Clamence has experienced (who feels shame and guilt more deeply and enduringly than he does), it at least has a value, as literature does, of showing a person rather than a case study or a monster. Also possibly useful for the too-clever-by-half middle-class teenagers who are the (stereo)typical audience for existentialism, in hinting that their arrogance isn't entirely a good thing.

I'm finding it a lot more interesting to read about this book than to read the real thing.

This edition should also lose at least half a star for having the superscript for footnotes, but no notes anywhere. And a Penguin Modern Classic with no introduction either? Tut.

At least reading The Fall adds a retrospective extra layer of wit to Mark E. Smith’s rant/interview/autobiography Renegade - in which, likewise, a middle aged man talks in a pub about his philosophy of life and people he’s been a bastard to. ( )
  antonomasia | Jan 6, 2015 |
I found that in this book Camus explores the edges of existentialism. somewhat similar in what he did in the stranger, same sort of main character, expect this time the character feels some remose. he looks back on his life and feels regart ( )
  michaelbartley | Dec 13, 2014 |
This is an extraordinary novella. It takes a similar form to Mohsin Hamid's "The reluctant fundamentalist" (though of course Camus came first) - an extended monologue in which a man tells his life story to a stranger, and it addresses deep questions of philosophy, religion, atheism, judgment and morality.
One odd thing is that the new Penguin Classics edition has a number of footnote numbers but there are no notes corresponding to these. ( )
  bodachliath | Nov 4, 2014 |
Disturbing, astute, disagreeable, and witty. It wasn't an "enjoyable" read for me, but overall, a great book. ( )
  AaronKappel | May 22, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Albert Camusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buss, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maclaine Pont, AnneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, JustinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Some were dreadfully insulted, and quite seriously, to have held up as a model such an immoral character as A Hero of Our Time; others shrewdly noticed that the author had portrayed himself and his acquaintances...A Hero of Our Time, gentlemen, is in fact a portrait but not of an individual; it is the aggregate of the vices of our whole generation intheir fullest expression. LERMONTOV
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May I, monsieur, offer my services without running the risk of intruding?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679720227, Paperback)

Elegantly styled, Camus' profoundly disturbing novel of a Parisian lawyer's confessions is a searing study of modern amorality.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:59 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Elegantly styled, Camus' profoundly disturbing novel of a Parisian lawyer's confessions is a searing study of modern amorality.

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