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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 7 January 2018

"The Fall" by Albert Camus

This strange story is told in the form of a monologue. Jean-Baptiste Clemence, lawyer turned 'judge penitent' does the Ancient Mariner thing with someone he meets in an Amsterdam bar and, over five nights, reveals the story of his life.

Despite its brevity (92 pages in the Penguin edition) it is quite difficult to read because it is a monologue and so the intensity is unrelieved. But the turning point in the life of Monsieur Clemence comes on page 44, thus conforming almost exactly to the 'turning point at the 50% mark' theory.

Intense as it is, there are many moments of profundity:

  • "Style, like poplin, all too often conceals eczema." (p 5)
  • "I always thought our fellow citizens were crazy about two things: ideas and fornication." (p 5) 
  • "Have you noticed that the concentric canals of Amsterdam are like the circles of hell? A bourgeois hell, inhabited of course by bad dreams." (p 10)
  • "A sense of legality, the satisfaction of being right and the joy of self-esteem: these, my dear sir, are powerful incentives to keep us on our feet and moving forward." (p 13)
  • "One could not meditate in cellars or prison cells (unless the later were situated in towers, with an extensive view)." (p 17)
  • "'Please accept my sympathy' comes right before 'now let's get on with something else'. It's the emotion felt by a prime minister or company chairman: you get it cheap after some disaster." (p 20)
  • "That's what men are like, sir: two-faced: they cannot love unless they love themselves." (p 22)
  • "servitude, preferably with a smile, is unavoidable." (p 29)
  • "sensuality alone governed my love life. I looked solely for objects of pleasure and conquest." (p 37)
  • "I did have principles, of course, one of which, for example, was that my friends' wives were sacred. It was just that, quite sincerely, I would stop being friends with the husbands a few days in advance." (p 37)
  • "not taking what you don't want is the hardest thing in the world." (p 40)
  • "Isn't that the finest of negative landscapes? Look, n the left we have that pile of ashes that they call a dune here, with the grey dyke on our right, the pallid beach at our feet and, in front of us, the sea, the colour of diluted washing powder, its pale waters reflected on the sky above." (p 45)
  • "There is no merit in being born honest or intelligent." (p 51)
  • "Because I desired eternal life, I slept with whores and drank for whole nights on end." (p 64)
  • He blames Jesus for the massacre of the innocents because, as God, he must have known it would happen because of His birth. (p 70)
  • "Someone I used to know would divide people into three categories: those who prefer to have nothing to hide rather than being obliged to lie; those who prefer to lie than have nothing to hide; and finally those who like lying and concealing at the same time." (p 75)
  • "they're putting make-up on the corpse." (p 76)
  • "beds that are so hard, and their immaculate sheets, it's like dying in a shroud already, embalmed in purity." (p 76)

His last completed novel, published the year before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and four years before his death at 47.

Camus also write The Outsider

January 2018; 92 pages

Books and plays written by Nobel Laureates that I have reviewed in this blog include:

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