Yair Ben-Zvi's Reviews > The Fall

The Fall by Albert Camus
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Jan 23, 2011

it was amazing
Read from January 23 to February 04, 2012

Each of the fundamental pieces of this novel could, on their own, function as separate individual works of towering brilliance, individual light houses casting their luminescence into dark skies. And each of these possible works could easily be stretched into tome sized volumes.

But Camus consolidates all of the pieces into a sum far greater than its parts, at a page count barely over a hundred pages. This is to me, an accomplishment so rarely even approached that it's borderline inconceivable.

Jean Bapiste-Clamence is a self described 'judge-penitent' who after his own fall from grace, resides in an amerstdam bar called 'mexico city' lecturing, preaching, philosophizing, and even just basically conversing with each and every strata of society that comes to him drunk or otherwise.

Told in first person present tense, Clamence speaks to the readers directly along with the nameless and mostly silent secondary character. another successful parisian like clamence who starts off amused and curious towards clamence's ideas, then, along with the readers, is quickly absorbed into the war of ideas that clamence is forming, and advancing, until, finally, he is the witness to this remarkable character's (now one of my favorites of all the literature I've read up until this point) final lamentation as to simultaneously the inherent limits of his own espoused philosophy coupled with its actual potential for bringing about a deep and true, profound and nearly totally curative redemption for human kind.

Camus is to me one of the truest and purest writers who has ever put pen to paper. The individual visions of each of his works all function separately and together, as heartbreaking and breathtakingly living and breathing portraits of the dire rot of mankind's depravity and suffering which, of course, is mostly if not completely self-inflicted. The works are also somehow (beyond paradoxical) able to run a thin string through the muck of humanity's collectively shattered hearts and minds, psyche's and silences to connect us all from the message of the lone artistic genius (Camus, truly apart from not only his own time and people but even from mostly all others everywhere). This string is delicate as gossamer but tough as titanium cord.

It's not hope or the promise of salvation, I'm not sure I can adequately describe it (actually I know I can't) but if pressed I guess I'd wager a weak idea and label this string 'potential'. But the potential given us by Camus, and in The Fall it is no different, is something to be earned and suffered for and towards, but given the repetition of paradoxical equals (faith and non belief, high and low class and what that entails, intellect and base bestial behavior, etc) presented in the text, this necessary suffering is equal in weight and importance to all of humanity's suffering that has come before it, no more or less.

It's a suffering that we as a species need, deserve, and create for ourselves. It is at once what damns us and what can save us. Our faith and our intellect, the rise and the fall of what could be great versus what we kill in each other every moment with every breath in all our waking days.

Necessary literature for everyone, please read.
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