I’ve become a bit of a Camus fan recently, having really enjoyed The Stranger and The First Man, I thought I’d have a crack at another after coming to a bit of a sticking point with The Myth of Sisyphus. This one was on the edge of my ability, I’ll be interested to hear other’s views and explanations so please give me a comment if you think I’ve totally missed the point!
Jean-Baptiste Clamence gives a monologue to an unknown listener in Mexico City, an Amsterdam pub. He had been a high powered and well respected Parisian lawyer. He tells of his inauthenticity, contradictions and ultimately his ‘fall’. A man seen as a respected member of the community, an all-round ‘good guy’ realises that ultimately all his seemingly selfless actions are all performed only to help himself, to improve his image and to allow him to feel good about himself.
As the book progresses it really makes you question your own morality and motivation for supposedly good deeds. Camus is a Noble prize winner, unsurprisingly the book is littered with clever references, the majority of which I probably didn’t even register, never mind understand. Using Mexico City as a pub name in, sea level, Amsterdam, where the book’s protagonist is comfortable only in ‘high places’ relative to others, is possibly a reference to heaven? The name of both the book and the main protagonist are possibly religious references to John the Baptist, being recognised as a prophet in several religions, as well as the fall of man after Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden?