It is a phenomenally quick read with only 147 pages and good sized print. The book itself was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, which says something of its depth and perspective. The author has an interesting biography as he was very active during WWII as a leading writer for the French Resistance and the editor of Combat which was an important underground newspaper. His activities in theater and play writing were well known at the time and his death was cited as a great loss to the arts. Albert Camus was killed when struck by a moving automobile at the age of 46.
Jean-Baptiste Clamence is a “good guy.” He uses his abilities as a lawyer to protect the poor and weak. When asked, he helps blind people across the street. Wherever one finds a righteous cause, he appears to support it. He is a well-respected member of the community…these are all ways the main character is discussed, and effectively sees himself..initially. Where is the fault with such a person to be found?
This book discusses a surrealist (at least boating among the Greek isles seems surreal to me…perhaps though that is just at the moment?) scenario of self discovery. It deals with our dear lawyer who begins to second guess who and what he is. He begins wanting to tell the truth, about everything…which can put you in very interesting places in life. Especially as a lawyer…
The authors prose is beautiful and elegant in its delivery. Camus truly shines and deserved, based on this book alone, his prize in literature. This is the type of book that leaves you thinking, and thinking some more. What is it all about? What am I supporting with my lifestyle? WHO AM I? Finding yourself in this world is a theme that is full of delicious potential. “The Catcher in the Rye” is a prime example of the same type of growing pain theme seen in “The Fall” except instead of a teenager its an adult going through a mid-life crisis. Or is it a crisis? Perhaps it is a revelation?
What I didn’t:
I think as a modern society we can at times be too self-aware. It has been something as I have grown older that makes me wary of these thought processes as they are, inevitably so, a rabbit hole which has no end. Self-awareness is important, you should know thyself. Understanding who and what you are, your values, your beliefs, is important. Getting too in depth with it or obsessing about it can however, become a source of mental instability. This book can be quite bleak, so unless you are a pluviophile like myself try not to read it on a rainy day. You might get a bit too down on the current social climate and its possible outcome.
Read it, It’s worth it. Take it from me, a quick tramp through the rich life of a European lawyer wondering what its all about isn’t a bad Sunday evening. I give it an absurdly good 4.5 out of 5.