Published in 1956, “The Fall” by Albert Camus belongs to the genre of philosophical novels. In this work, the French existentialist tried to answer the eternal question: “What is the meaning of human existence”? To answer, he chose the form of a monologue, coming from the lips of former Parisian lawyer Jean-Baptiste Clamence and the current “judge on repentance.” Confession of the hero is a kind of analysis of the state of the contemporary author of society.
The storyline “The Fall” is made in the form of a stream of consciousness, invented by the impressionists. The main character meets his compatriot in the bar Mexico City in Amsterdam and tells him the story of his life for five days. Jean-Baptiste is a speaking name. Translated from French, it means – John the Baptist. Only in contrast to the biblical character is the hero Camus far from true faith and love. On the contrary, he calls his main feature contempt for people and love for himself. Clamence’s whole life was aimed at finding those who would adore him. And when he is disappointed with others and himself, he does not give up his sins, but with pleasure repents and begins to play a new role – the highest Judge. Through the mouth of Jean-Baptiste, the author shows the essence of modern Europeans who are interested only in newspapers and fornication. The main character of “The Fall” is also not averse to surrendering to sensual pleasures, but true love is unfamiliar to him. He easily converges with women, playing this or that role, and when he tries to approach them with the truth, he becomes of no interest to anyone. Clamence emphasizes the duality of his nature throughout the whole story: on the surface he is a noble lawyer who seeks to help everyone, deep down he is an ordinary self-lover who takes seriously only himself in life. The pains of conscience are familiar to him insofar as, but one event – the death of a young woman in water – torments him all his life. Denying her help, he worries and rejoices that everything has already happened. Equally well defending in the past advocate life of both widows and murderers, Clamence is deprived of the realization of a true guilt. He only knows about his existence, but in his soul there is no real repentance – there is only the desire to confess in order to protect himself when condemning others.
The name of the story Camus, like the name of the protagonist, is deeply symbolic. The “Fall” here is both a physical action performed by a woman in black, and that moral decay to which the soul of the protagonist, and in general the whole European world, is exposed. Somewhat feverish, but nevertheless clearly, in simple phrases and sentences, Camus reveals the true essence of human nature. In his confessional monologue, Jean-Baptiste Clamence periodically departs from the main storyline (his life story), talking about strangers to him or discussing philosophical and religious topics.
The main motive of the “Fall” is associated with the disclosure of the absurdity of the world and human nature. Jean-Baptiste Clamence, who at first sinned by virtue of his natural, invisible egoism, realizing himself as a hypocrite, does not abandon his essence, but finds a new excuse for continuing his usual life.
Like most works of an existential sense, “The Fall” forms a special artistic picture of the world. In the center of it stands a man with an unusual psychological makeup, which allows him to reveal in a new way the classical problems of being. Showing surrounding reality through the prism of selfish views reveals the most terrible human vices (fornication, dislike of relatives) – those that are not amenable to judgment by the court as an instance, but contradict virtues.