The Fall explores Camus’s philosophy of the absurd. Most prominently, we see an illustration of Camus’s claim that all men are guilty of something. We are guilty not only by our actions, but by our inactions, or failure to act. Crimes we fail to stop are just as much our fault as those we commit ourselves. The novel explores several existential ideas as well, including Sartre’s "bad faith" and Kierkegaard’s "dread." The idea of doubt and universal uncertainty features not only in the novel’s themes, but in its technique and narration as well.
Questions About Philosophical Viewpoints: The Absurd
- Check out our discussion of "indirect communication" in the section on Genre. Where in The Fall do you see this technique employed by Jean-Baptiste? Where do you see it employed by Camus?
- Jean-Baptiste certainly employs his own brand of absurd reasoning in The Fall. Is there a method to his seeming madness?
- Jean-Baptiste explains his interactions with others in Paris as play-acting. He used to fill roles because he couldn’t see anything serious or genuine in life. Does he still feel this way in the present, in Amsterdam?
Chew on This
Jean-Baptiste’s discussion of Copernicus and "reverse reasoning" serves as advice on how to interpret The Fall.