The Fall by Albert Camus
The Fall (French: La Chute) is a philosophical novel written by Albert Camus. First published in 1956, it is his last complete work of fiction. Set in Amsterdam, The Fall consists of a series of dramatic monologues by the self-proclaimed "judge-penitent" Jean-Baptiste Clamence, as he reflects upon his life to a stranger. In what amounts to a confession, Clamence tells of his success as a wealthy Parisian defence lawyer who was highly respected by his colleagues; his crisis, and his ultimate "fall" from grace, was meant to invoke, in secular terms, The Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. The Fall explores themes of innocence and guilt, freedom, and the meaninglessness of human existence. Clamence can be seen to follow in the tradition of both Friedrich Nietzsche's Zarathustra and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. Like these works, the main force of Camus' novel lies in its use of narrative technique which, as Clamence reflects upon the way he has lived his life, challenges the reader to examine the way he has lived his own. Camus' primary aim is to draw the reader to the conclusion that life is entirely absurd — and then teach them to come to terms with it. In a eulogy to Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre described the novel as "perhaps the most beautiful and the least understood" of Camus' books (Aronson 5).