Monday, 7 September 2009

The Fall - Albert Camus

A challenging read. More of a philosophical tract than a novel and though it is only 100 pages long it contains more ideas than most writers deal with in their whole career,
Ostensibly I read this because it followed the same structure as the Reluctant Fundamentalist (which I think is influenced by it) a onesided monologue in a supposed conversation.
Rather than develop a plot though Camus uses this device to discuss different aspects of human existence: sex, death, law, justice, morality, religion.
A few points really stuck with me - the narrator is a French lawyer who uses his calling of helping others as his fulfillment - this is how he feels alive. It builds his arrogance - he likes to be above everyone else physically and feeds his debauchery. Once this is challenged though his spiral (or fall I guess) is pretty sudden. He is found in a sleazy bar in Amsterdam - the atmosphere of which is very well written.
There is an interesting intro in my edition that the book is partially an outline of the dispute between Sartre and Camus - an expression of Camus' disillusionment with theLeft. This is reflected in the tone and barbed asides. Though Sartre did praise the work as the meaningless of the narrator's existence does chime with elements of his philosophy.
You can aso see why Mark E Smith stuck with the name of the Fall- the anti-hero in a bar is a Mark-e archetype.
A wee review like this cannot do this justice - academic careers have probably been built writing about this. I will keep this book handy though and will re-read it.

1 comment:

  1. Funnily enough, I came to this via The Reluctant Fundamentalist as you did. I've always enjoyed reading Camus, and this was no exception. It's interesting to compare how Hamid and Camus dealt with the style differently; although I enjoyed both books, there was a smoothness with Camus, even in translation, that Hamid didn't quite reach.

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