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Elegantly styled, Camus' profoundly disturbing novel of a Parisian lawyer's confessions is a searing study of modern amorality.
hell must be like that: streets filled with shop signs and no way of explaining oneself. One is classified once and for all. You, for instance, mon cher compatriote, stop and think of what your sign would be. You are silent? Well, you’ll tell me later on. I know mine in any case: a double face, a charming Janus, and above it the motto of the house: “Don’t rely on it.” On my cards: “Jean-Baptiste Clamence, play actor.” Why, shortly after the evening I told you about, I discovered something. When
loved, those cities barely visited, those women barely possessed! I went through the gestures out of boredom or absent-mindedness. Then came human beings; they wanted to cling, but there was nothing to cling to, and that was unfortunate—for them. As for me, I forgot. I never remembered anything but myself. Gradually, however, my memory returned. Or rather, I returned to it, and in it I found the recollection that was awaiting me. But before telling you of it, allow me, mon cher compatriote, to
promise to tell the truth and then lie as best you can. You will satisfy their hidden desire and doubly prove your affection. This is so true that we rarely confide in those who are better than we. Rather, we are more inclined to flee their society. Most often, on the other hand, we confess to those who are like us and who share our weaknesses. Hence we don’t want to improve ourselves or be bettered, for we should first have to be judged in default. We merely wish to be pitied and encouraged in
he knew he was not altogether innocent. If he did not bear the weight of the crime he was accused of, he had committed others—even though he didn’t know which ones. Did he really not know them? He was at the source, after all; he must have heard of a certain Slaughter of the Innocents. The children of Judea massacred while his parents were taking him to a safe place—why did they die if not because of him? Those blood-spattered soldiers, those infants cut in two filled him with horror. But given
creatures and of the world. But my fatigue would disappear the next day, and with it the secret; I would rush forth anew. I ran on like that, always heaped with favors, never satiated, without knowing where to stop, until the day—until the evening rather when the music stopped and the lights went out. The gay party at which I had been so happy … But allow me to call on our friend the primate. Nod your head to thank him and, above all, drink up with me, I need your understanding. I see that that