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Analysis

The Fall Allusions & Cultural References

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Literary and Mythological References

  • Lohengrin, Arthurian Legend (1.13)
  • Dante (4.13)
  • Inferno (1.14 explicitly, the novel’s setting in general)
  • D’Artagnan, from The Three Musketeers (3.15)
  • Janus (3.9)
  • Gabriel-Joseph de La Vergne, Letters to a Portuguese Nun (3.20)
  • Tristan and Isolde (4.19)

Biblical References

  • John the Baptist (the name "Jean-Baptiste Clamence")
  • The Tower of Babel (1.2)
  • The Sadducees (1.8, 1.9)
  • "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you" (4.19)
  • Jesus Christ (5.17-9)
  • "The Slaughter of the Innocents" (5.17)
  • Rachel (5.17)
  • "The Third Evangelist," a.k.a. Luke (5.17)
  • "Neither do I condemn thee" (5.20)
  • "I know not the man" (5.20)
  • "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (5.20)
  • Elijah (5.22)
  • The Messiah (5.22)

Historical Figures

  • François Achille Bazaine (2.15)
  • Marcel Cerdan (3.17)
  • Charles de Gaulle (3.17)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (3. 22)
  • Albert Einstein (3.23)
  • René Descartes (4.7, 5.21)
  • Louis XIV (4.26)
  • Our Lord in the Attic (5.20)
  • Erwin Rommel (6.3)
  • Bertrand du Guesclin (6.6)
  • Girolamo Savonarola (6.15)
  • Nicolaus Copernicus (6.20)

Art and Cultural References

  • Edith Piaf, "La Vie en Rose" (5.6)
  • Richard Wagner, the "Liebestod" (5.6)
  • "The Just Judges" (6.9)
  • "The Ghent Altarpiece" or "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" (6.9)
  • Jan or Hubert van Eyck (No one knows which van Eyck brother painted the painting.)

Implicit Shout-Outs

  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground
    The idea of a confession delivered by a seedy and self-obsessed philosopher is, as it turns out, nothing new in existential literature. Dostoevsky did it first, in his Notes from the Underground published in 1864. Because Notes was considered a forerunner to existential lit., we have to consider its influence on works like The Fall. You should definitely Shmoop Notes from the Underground.
  • Søren Kierkegaard
    You can find Kierkegaard popping up all over the place in The Fall. This guy was a 19th century Danish philosopher commonly known as "The Father of Existentialism." But about those little bits: read all about Kierkegaard’s theory of "indirect communication" in our discussion of Point of View in the module. Check out what we have to say on his book De Omnibus Dubitandum Est ("Everything must be doubted") in our section on tone, as well as a healthy dose of Kierkegaardian "dread" in Shmoop’s genre discussion.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre
    Camus and Sartre may have been rivals by the time Camus wrote The Fall, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good of Sartre’s philosophy to be found in Camus's book.

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