Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Amsterdam. Capital city of the Netherlands; at thirteen feet below sea level, it has the lowest elevation of any capital in the world. Its concentric canals are likened by Jean-Baptiste Clamence to the circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno (c. 1320; English translation, 1802). Its Zuider Zee is called by him almost a dead sea. He lives in the Jewish section and preaches in a bar, which he calls his church. Amsterdam, in this way, lends itself to various Judeo-Christian references, which include his own name, a pseudonym meaning “John the Baptist, crying out.” The references are ironic: Clamence does not believe in the Judeo-Christian deity, by whom he would, as a believer, be judged. Needing to be judged, he must, lacking a judgmental deity, judge himself for having lived inauthentically. His self-judgment includes his self-imposed exile from Paris to the equivalent of Hell (Amsterdam), where his penance consists of confessing his inauthenticity to anyone who will listen. He calls himself a “judge-penitent”: one who judges himself and carries out the penitential sentence imposed upon himself by himself. Furthering his secularization of the Judeo-Christian religious tradition is his recollection that, in the prison camp, he was given the role of “pope.” In the camp he contracted a disease, possibly malaria, and the climate of Amsterdam has aggravated that disease.

Mexico City Bar

Mexico City Bar....

(The entire section is 606 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Fall is a long monologue, a confession, a methodical introspection. In contrast to the informal style of The Stranger, the...

(The entire section is 243 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Fall is situated in the pessimistic moral tradition of the great seventeenth-century classicists, La Bruyere and La Rochefoucauld....

(The entire section is 47 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The only one of Camus's novels to have been adapted for the cinema is The Stranger, produced by Paramount in 1967 and directed by...

(The entire section is 124 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Albert Camus. New York: Chelsea House, 1989. Collection of critical essays on the writer’s career. An article on The Fall provides a close analysis of Camus’ complex narrative method and reveals the author’s concerns about the modern condition of humanity.

Bree, Germaine, ed. Camus: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1962. Essays by eminent scholars give an overview of Camus’ accomplishments as a novelist and philosopher. One entry focuses on the later novels, including The Fall, which is seen as a personal statement by the novelist against a readership who failed to appreciate his earlier work.

Ellison, David R. Understanding Albert Camus. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1990. Study of the major works. Includes a detailed study of The Fall, concentrating on its setting, structure, and narrative techniques, and commenting on Camus’ handling of religion.

Sprintzen, David. Camus: A Critical Examination. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988. Critical analysis of Camus’ major works, from a philosophical perspective. A chapter on The Fall examines the work as a study of modern anxiety and compares it to other novels by the author.

Thody, Philip. Albert Camus. London: Macmillan, 1989. General survey of Camus’ novels, examining common themes and focusing on his rejection of Christianity in favor of an existential position. A chapter on The Fall concentrates on the author’s satiric portrait of lawyers as a scourge of modern society.