Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Fall, by Albert Camus

Quite awhile ago now, just before he was heading to Mongolia, Bindleys recommended The Stranger to me, thinking it would appeal to my sense of the absurd. And rightly so - it did. So I was in Folio Books the other day looking for something new and decided to try out The Fall. Interestingly, by the way, that Wikipedia article mentions that the oarsome (sic) band got their name from this book.

To be honest I wasn't overly impressed. It's a very short one, at around 90 pages, but the monologue style started to drag on me pretty early. I'm not really sure why - I think it might be more to do with my mood at the time than anything to do with the book. Ordinarily I'd have thought that I would enjoy it.

What I did enjoy was Jean-Baptiste Clamence's views on sexual relations. Here are some choice quotes:

"So true is this that even when some of them provided me with only a small degree of pleasure, I still tried to resume our relations from time to time, helped no doubt by that peculiar desire which is stimulated by absence, followed by a suddenly rediscovered intimacy; but also to make sure that the bond between us was up to me alone to revive. ... Once they would not be anyone else's, I could bring myself to break with them -- something that, otherwise, it was almost always impossible for me to do."

"You should note that, as soon as I had recovered this affection, it would weigh on me. Then, in my moments of irritation, I would tell myself that the ideal solution would have been the death of the person concerned. Death would, on the one hand, have consolidated our bond once and for all, while on the other removing its constraints. But one cannot desire the death of everyone or wish, at the extreme, to depopulate the planet in order by enjoy a freedom that would be unimaginable otherwise. That would be incompatible with my sensibility and my love of mankind."

"I could not live unless all creatures throughout the world, or the greatest possible number, were turned towards me, eternally vacant, deprived of independent life, ready to respond to my call at any moment, in short, condemned to sterility until the day when I might deign to shine my light upon them. In short, for me to live happily, all the creatures whom I chose had not to live at all. They were only to receive life, from time to time, at my good pleasure."

Anyhoo, even though I didn't enjoy it a great deal, I'd still recommend it. It's such a short read that there's really no reason not to give it a try..!

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