One of the most difficult circumstances you can find yourself in is to have a semi-drunk person sit next to you and demand that you serve as their father confessor. They pour out to you all of the problems in their life, using you as a source of pity, sympathy and a bin to unload their troubles into. Camus captures this situation, yet does it so eloquently that rather than desperately searching for a polite exit strategy, you read it and nod your head. Clamence is a Frenchman currently sitting in a seedy bar in Amsterdam and executing a monologue about his life. He was once a respected lawyer in Paris, yet he fell from grace and his personal uncertainties and inadequacies come to the fore. In this respect, Clamence is a conglomeration of most human frailties. For example, during the Second World War his one great act of patriotism is to hate the dog that responded to the attention of a young German soldier. While others risked and gave their lives for their country, he succumbed to his fears and uncertainties. Clamence is someone that you identify with yet hate, because he is the personification of the simple compromises, rationalizations and failures that are part of daily life. He does not triumph; he simply muddles through his life doing the best he can, no matter how inadequate that might be. A classic of literature, my first experience with this book was in a literature class in high school. Our class discussion of this book was the most lively, educational and entertaining one of my entire K-12 experiences.
At one point in "The Fall" we join our narrator and his companion as they float along Amsterdam's Zuider Zee. We are assured the boat is going at top speed, though with surroundings blotted out by dimness and fog, it's hard to tell. "We are steaming along without any landmark; we can't gauge our speed," the narrator says. "We are making progress and yet nothing is changing. It's not navigation but dreaming." … more
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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