Critical Evaluation

Albert Camus’s death in 1960, at the early age of forty-six, was completely unexpected; it was a great shock to those who followed his literary and philosophical development from Le Mythe de Sisyphe(1942; The Myth of Sisyphus; 1955) and L’Étranger (1942; The Stranger, 1946). Camus broke with tradition, engaged himself in a new direction, and had showed vital and promising concepts of his new vision. His sudden death left his oeuvre unfinished. He bequeathed to the world finished works with an unfinished vision. The spiritual wasteland of the modern world was his obsession. He traced the dilemma of modern life back to its absurd roots but offered no new alternative. He died before he could express such an alternative.

Camus intended to incorporate The Fall into a collection of short stories. The story soon outgrew its planned length, however, and was published as a separate novel in 1956.

In The Fall, Camus recalls The Stranger. Jean-Baptiste Clamence is an intensified Meursault. The themes of The Stranger are treated with greater lucidity and bitterness in The Fall. The idea of death, the problem of indifference and anonymity in modern life, the notion of guilt and innocence in the individual, the awareness of the absurdity of human actions, and the ambiguous relativity of all traditional values haunt both novels.

In form, The Fall is a confession, a philosophical confession of a former lawyer by...

(The entire section is 624 words.)