Bridging Consciousness: A Topographical Reading of La Chute

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date



Near the end of Le Mythe de Sisyphe, Camus summarizes the eponymous Greek hero’s plight on the mountainside as follows: “La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un cœur d’homme” (OC I, 304). The fact that Sisyphus will never bring the rock to rest on the mountaintop does not thwart his efforts or bring him to his knees in despair; rather, his very awareness of “toute l’étendue de sa misérable condition ” (OC I, 302–303) affords him “[une] joie silencieuse” (OC I, 303). Consequently, Camus exhorts us in the very next and final sentence of the essay to imagine Sisyphus happy. At first glance, the ambitions of Jean-Baptiste Clamence in La Chute are no less different, as he, too, is focused on what he terms his “vocation des sommets” (OC III, 707) from which he moreover gleans an unmistakable satisfaction. Over the course of his conversation with his unnamed interlocutor, he explains at length his concerted efforts to rise to “ces points culminants” (OC III, 706). In this sense, Sisyphus and Clamence appear quite like-minded indeed in terms of both the topographical dimensions of their respective ascents and the conscious state of mind in which they undertake their struggle.


A Writer's Topography: Space and Place in the Life and Works of Albert Camus is volume 406 of the Faux Titre: Etudes de Langue et Littérature Française series.