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Jean-Baptiste Clamence on the Bridge: Imagining A Spiritually Informed Literary Criticism (Camus’ The Fall) [r-libre/625]

Wilson, Kevin (2012). Jean-Baptiste Clamence on the Bridge: Imagining A Spiritually Informed Literary Criticism (Camus’ The Fall). Ultimate Reality and Meaning, 35 (1-2), 60-81.

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Content : Accepted Version
Item Type: Journal Articles
Refereed: Yes
Status: Published
Abstract: In his article, The Need for a Religious Literary Criticism, Dennis Taylor laments, “We no longer know how to discuss wrong turnings and right turnings, achieved insights, persistent blindness, breakthrough moments.” (5) He continues, “Do we have a language to talk about the delicacy of spiritual conversation, … to talk about spiritual quest.” (14) At the heart of Christian spirituality we find transformation, the conversion experience so poignantly described in the autobiographies of St. Augustine, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and Saint Teresa of Avila. In this paper we analyze a confessional novel where the narrator/protagonist has undergone a transformative experience (albeit negative): The Fall by Albert Camus. In Camus’ novel Jean-Baptiste Clamence (the narrator/protagonist) undergoes a crisis of selfhood which is akin to a negative transformation—an inversion of the pattern of spiritual transformation from sin to grace. This crisis occurs in a secularized world emptied of God. Although faith and religious belief may no longer be an option, this is not a world devoid of judgment. Our analysis comprises three parts. In the first part we analyze the novel with an emphasis on Clamence’s “conversion” experience. In the second part we consider critical reception of the novel and, in particular, how critics have dealt with the events on the bridge (Pont Royal) and Clamence’s response to them in terms of self-abasement and guilt. The third part of our analysis is deductive, less conventional, and more exploratory. We begin with the proposition that spirituality is akin to a paradigm or worldview. It is a ‘way of being’ in the world with a concomitant ‘way of seeing/experiencing’ existence. Once the conceptual and propositional contours of a spiritual worldview are established, we move to their deductive application to novel. Our focus is Clamence’s transformative experience on the Pont Royal (the dramatic center of the Camus’ novel) and the novel’s portrayal of a self in crisis.
Additional Information: Le volume 35 no 1-2 (March-June 2012) de la revue URAM a été publiée en 2016.
Depositor: Wilson, Kevin
Owner / Manager: Kevin Wilson
Deposited: 30 Mar 2015 19:10
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2017 14:17

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