A Review Of



Albert Camus

Review by R.E. Prindle

Table of Contents.

I. Review of The Fall

II. Article and Commentary on Camus’ and Jews

III. Review Of The Outsider

IV.  Comparison of The Fall and A Rebours.  (Projected as of 12/27/11)

V.  Comments

Albert Camus- Prototypical Hipster Pose

This novel goes to show that you can fool all the people all the time.

The cover blurb of my edition has the New York Times yodeling:  ‘An irresistably brilliant examination of the modern conscience.’  which is complete and total nonsense.  This isn’t even the examination of anyone’s conscience.

Camus was a French Jew from Algeria then living in France.  He was not an Algerian Jew as the Jews of Algeria were made French citizens in the revolution of 1830.  This distinction is important.

The Fall Camus is talking about is the post-Enlightenment destruction of the religious basis for considering the Jews as a Chosen People, or rather, The Chosen People.  In Jewish mythology the world is organized God>Jews>the rest of humanity>the animal kingdom.  As Camus was not unintelligent he realized that without God the Jews had no special status.  HIs purpose here is to reestablish a reason for Jewish superiority over the rest of mankind.  Thus he creates Jean-Baptiste Clamence as his spokesman to represent Jewry originating the role of judge-penitent for him and them.

Clamence is not an admirable person.  Never was, never can be.  His extreme arrogance before the Fall is characteristic of the Jewish people.  The Fall was undoubtedly the extermination of Jews during WWII.  While Hitler is given sole credit for the dirty work, in the Jewish mind they were rejected by the whole world.  One should not underestimate the effect on the Jewish mind of the turning back of the St. Louis from Cuba.  These facts were devastating.

Camus’ Clamence thus felt degraded by the Fall from confidence.  He becomes libertine, criminal, degenerate, taking up his abode in the criminal quarter of Amsterdam which he seems to equate with the most criminal place in the world.  He is a penitent.  There in sackcloth and ashes.  It is precisely because he knows extreme degradation, having once been of God’s Chosen People, that he has appointed himself a judge over all the peoples of the world.

He- the Jews- have regained their imagined position of the Chosen People through extreme debasement and degradation.

That is why they have made the Holocaust the central feature of their new identity.  Their God rejected them, once again, allowing the Nazis to destroy them.  Thus the Holocaust replaces God.  If the Holocaust is not sacred to them and honored by the rest of the world, as their God once was, then they not only lose their place as the Chosen People but have no chance of regaining it.

That is the import of Camus’ The Fall.  The book has nothing to do with an examination of the ‘modern conscience’, which is to say my conscience.  I reject Camus.  I reject his book.  I reject his situation.  He and it have nothing in common with me.  His problem is not a universal problem as the NY Times states.  Camus’ book is merely a tedious rendition of someone else’s angst that has nothing to do with me or mine.

End Of Review


The below response to Robert Zaretsky’s article develops the argument of the origin of The Fall.   http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/books/82555/camus-the-jew/



R.E. Prindle

     Mr. Robert Zaretsky who wrote the above titled article for Tablet Ezine is indeed an example of the absurdity he deplores.  He is atavism personified.  How can anyone in this post-Darwinian age be so simple and naive as to be a believing Jew.  The human intellect has moved well beyond such simplicity.  To be a Jew, a Moslem or even Fundamentalist Christian which is to say a distaff Jew should be a logical impossibility.

     One might claim to be an Israeli, claiming allegiance to Israel, without making oneself look ridiculous but to claim nationality the same as everyone else is to renounce the extraordinaryly specious claim to some sort of special superiority based on an equally specious divine preference is quite akin to insanity in this post-Darwinian scientific world.  The very idea of Yeshivas and Seminaries is repellent to contemporary knowledge.

     Given this willful obtuseness  one is not astonished to realize that ‘Jews’ renounce all involvement as the cause of the disorder, death and destruction  from 1913, when the Jewish millennium was said to begin, to the present.  In the height of arrogance the ‘Jews’ ascribe any resistance to the genocidal war begun by them in 1913 as ‘anti-Semitism.’  In other words one is to accept their dominance without a struggle; to resist is considered perverse.

     Thus, what makes Camus at least an honorary Jew was his deferential embracement of the Jewish cause as his own.  To Bob Zaretsky the actions of God in testing the Jews by an inexplicable defeat can only be compared to the trials of Job.  Having been stripped of his children and property but remaining loyal to his perverse god:

     We think we know how the story of Job ends:  Rewarded by God for his loyalty, Job is paid back with even more children, sheep and property.  But is this the ending?  A number of biblical scholars suggest the Job we hear in the final chapter, the one who accepts and resigns himself to God’s power play, is not the same Job we hear in the preceding 40 chapters.  Instead, he is a throwback to an earlier story that was grafted onto the otherwise perplexing account.  Instead the real Job is Camus’ Job.  He is a Job who answers God’s deafening and dismal effort at self-justification with scornful silence.

      Thus, Bob, and one suspects all Jews refuse to take responsibility for their actions perceiving Camus here as some sort of intermediary.  Bob, has a distorted notion of the relationship between his Jews and Europeans.  He says:

     In republican France Jewishness was largely a private matter:  it was only when Nazi Germany buried the Republic in 1940 that Jewishness became a public matter and indifference to the fate of the Jews was no longer possible- or should not have been possible.

     Bob completely overlooks the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890s that underlined the basic conflict between the French and Jews.  Nor did the opposition cease with the unjust reversal of Dreyfus’ conviction but simmered along through the Popular Front and Blum years until the Nazi reaction.  French dissatisfaction with the Jewish situation was always prominent, especially after the Eastern Jews stampeded the border during the late thirties and early forties creating havoc and destroying the French quality of life:

        Yet when the authoritarian regime of Vichy passed a salvo of anti-Semitic laws in 1940, most Frenchmen and -women did not blink.  One of the few who did blink- in fact doubled over in shock and revulsion- was Camus.  Working for the newspaper Paris-Soir, Camus was stunned when his Jewish colleagues were fired.  In a letter to his wife Francine Faure- a native or Oran, Algeria, who was very close to the Jewish community-  Camus said that he could not continue to work at the paper; any job at all in Algeria, even one on a farm, would be preferable.  As for the new  regime, he was merciless:  “Cowardice and senility is all they have to offer.  Pro-German policies, a constitution in the style of totalitarian regimes, a great fear of a revolution that will not come: all of this to truckle up to an enemy who has already pulverized us and to salvage privileges which are not threatened.”

     Camus was less than prescient about the revolution and totalitarian regimes as both are succeeding now worldwide.  The question is who did Camus mean was pulverized- the Jews or the French?  Camus according to Bob is plainly casting his lot with the Jews although conveniently excaping to Algeria beyond the Nazi reach.  This then is the background of The Fall that gives Clamence his depression.  God’s trial of Job was too severe in this instance for continued belief so that rather than complain Clamence/Camus turns his back on God in a disdainful ‘silence’ while pouting and drinking his life away.

     Camus is a Jew, fully so in sentiment and the Fall is in reaction to the holocaust.

     End of supplement.


A Review

The Outsider (L’Etranger)


Albert Camus

Review by R.E. Prindle

Edition: Folio Society 2011

Comes now the time to review Camus’ The Stranger, Outsider or Misfit.  A commenter or two have suggested I read The Outsider and I have.  The only thing I can compare it and Camus to is the Grateful Dead.  It is said that the Dead are an acquired taste.  Over the years I have listened to the Dead for many hours in the attempt not so much to acquire the taste as to understand it.  I know that Deadheads think that Jerry Garcia, of blessed memory, was a great guitarist but I can’t penetrate his style.  In fact I find the Dead so distasteful I’ve given up on them.

I put Camus in the same category as the Dead; he must be an acquired taste except for those of a similar mind.  Actually, I recently read the Myth of Sisyphus on line while I read The Plague several years ago.  Zero sympathy.

The Outsider strikes me as a high school novelist trying to be heavy.  Camus was twenty five in 1938 when he conceived the idea of  his little trilogy, that included this book.  The novel must have been written in ‘40-’41 as it was published in ‘42 during the war.  I suppose most of us experienced the confusion of life in much the same way at twenty-seven or twenty-eight just before the age of reason bit at thirty.

My edition contains an afterword by Camus dated 8 January 1955 in which he says:

         A long time ago I summed up The Outsider in a sentence which I realize is extremely paradoxical:  ‘In our society (meaning French Algeria I suppose) any man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s funeral is liable to be condemned to death.’  I simply meant that the hero of the book is condemned because he doesn’t play the game.  In this sense, he is an outsider to the society in which he lives, wandering on the fringe, on the outskirts of life, solitary and sensual.  And for this reason, some readers have been tempted to regard him as a reject.  But to get a more accurate picture of his character, or rather one that conforms more closely to his author’s intentions, you must ask yourself in what way Meursault doesn’t play the game.  The answer is simple; he refuses to lie.

Camus’ evaluation of his story only proves once again that no author truly understands what he has written.   Not only that but his is such a perverse interpretation as to be incredible.  Meursault neither lies or tells the truth; he is just a passive receptacle of other people’s needs.  Further, the book even if considered a fantasy doesn’t make sense; it doesn’t appear to be founded on human experience.

Obviously the story does not hinge on Meursault’s refusal to lie but simply his treatment of his mother and his refusal to show emotion at her funeral.  That’s it.  The fact that he killed a man in self-defense which is not brought out is merely an excuse for executing him for his perceived coldness toward his mother.

I don’t know the nature of French Algerian jurisprudence of the time but I find it very difficult to believe that judges adjudicating an ostensible murder would conduct the trial on the basis of whether a man cried at his mother’s funeral or not.  Who knows what his actual relationship his mother had with him and so what?

The issue is the killing.  As I read the story Meursault only drew his gun when the Arab flashed his knife.  The glare of the sun on the blade intensified the threat so in self defense Meursault shot him.  There is absolutely no reason that Meursault couldn’t have told the judge ‘the truth’- he drew a knife on me so having a gun I shot him.  Where is the refusal to lie?   The mother combined with the killing doesn’t make sense; there is no connection.  But, maybe that’s what existentialism means, you got me.

The center of the novel which merely demonstrates the extreme passivity of Meursault doesn’t satisfactorily explain the sudden act of volition in shooting the Arab especially as he apparently didn’t construe it as an act of self-defense.

All through the main body he lacks volition just going where the wind blew.  Raymond demands that Meursault be his ‘mate’ to which he complies even though Raymond is the last guy anyone would want to know while to be the mate of someone who mercilessly beats a woman is beyond comprehension.  What is going through Albert Camus’ mind?

Marie, a woman he hardly knows proposes marriage to him so Meursault assents although he tells her he doesn’t love her and she doesn’t care.  For me this nonsense is merely exasperating.  I had no interest in any of the characters; the sequence of events make no sense other than to demonstrate the extreme passivity and lack of volition of Meursault.

The final outburst is in contrast to his passivity:

         …I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.  And finding it so much like myself, in fact so fraternal, I realized that I’d been happy, and that I was still happy.  For the final consummation and for me to feel less lonely, my last wish was that there should be a crowd of spectators at my execution and that they should greet me with cries of hatred.

Why hatred?  The guy just said he was happy and contented.  Like I say, Camus is an acquired taste.  I have no interest in him  but if you do- Enjoy.

By the way, has anyone read Sartre’s trilogy, The Roads To Freedom?