The Fall/ La Chute

During Lent I was reading The Fall (La Chute) by Albert Camus it is considered by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre to be “perhaps the most beautiful and the least understood” of Camus’ works. This is the last complete work of fiction by Camus and was published in 1956. There are bound to be spoilers.

The book itself is sort of like a stream of consciousness but it is the main character talking to the someone so a dramatic monologue. I fond it a bit difficult to get into the book as Jean-Baptiste Clamence, a judge-penitent who spends his time at Mexico City a bar in Amsterdam. The judge has a sort of fall from grace echoing the fall of man. One day while walking through the canals of Amsterdam he hears a woman on a bridge and he passes her then hearing a splash continues on his way. After this Jean-Baptiste ignores it for several years, then on day he is back on the bridge she jumped from and hears laughter but Jean assumes it must be laughter from somewhere else. If finally come to ahead as he is stuck in traffic behind a motorcycle that stalled and is pushed to the limit and starts questioning if he is a good person for not stopping. Since “people have decided to do without generosity in order to practice charity.”

This seems like a theme in the book looking at society and religion and how “God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves.” This is the world we live in devoid of God one could argue that we fall every day as Sarte put it “Hell is other people” through our actions and non actions we define who we are. As Jean-Baptiste wishes in the end to do over that time in his life to act and save the girl and therefore saving himself as well.

At least that what I got in my first read through of the book, perhaps in a couple of year in a re-read I’ll get something else out of this book.


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