Summary of LA CHUTE

by Albert Camus

Before the novel, Camus has asked to have inserted an explanation of the story:

The man who is speaking in this book is making a deliberate confession. He has taken refuge in Amsterdam. He had formerly been a lawyer but now he is playing the role of hermit and prophet he waits for an obliging ear to listen to his story in a shady waterfront bar in Amsterdam “une ville de canaux et de lumiere froide”.    
N.B. Camus' sensitivity to physical surroundings: Even in this brief explanatory word he stresses the atmosphere of Amsterdam.

Jean Baptiste is making a personal confession, putting himself on trial, but this is, in fact a psychological device, to give himself the higher ground so that he can then pass the burden of his own responsibility elsewhere. Camus sees this as characteristic behaviour of many people of his time: Il a le cœur moderne, c'est-à-dire qu'il ne peut supporter d'être jugé.  The speaker is looking at himself in the mirror, but this mirror of guilt ends up not in his hands but in the hands of the rest of society

Camus ends this introduction with three questions and one certainty.

(1) Where does the confession begin and where the accusation?
(2) Is Jean-Baptiste putting himself on trial or the times in which he lives.
(3) Is Jean-Baptiste an individual case or the man of his time.

Summary of the Book. Page references refer to “Methuen’s Twentieth Century Texts 1971

N.B. The text of “La Chute” consists of the words of  Jean-Baptiste only.The actions of the characters and the words of the person Jean-Baptiste is talking to are assumed from the text.

Jean-Baptiste sees a Frenchman, a stranger, in the bar, unable to catch the eye of the surly Dutch barman. He orders for him and is invited to bring his drink over.
Jean-Baptiste enjoys the irony of the Dutch barman, unable to speak any other language but Dutch, in this bar where sailors on all sides speak all the languages of the world and he even refuses to speak his own, satisfied with a nod and a grunt. (page 3)

Imaginez l'homme de Cro-Magnon pensionnaire à la tour do Babel! Il y souffrirait de dépaysement, au moins. Mais non celui-ci ne sent pas son exil, il va son chemin, rien ne l'entame.
NB Camus' sense of the absurd.

All the same he envies those, all of one piece, like the barman, who are not troubled by the constant mental reservations of the thinking man.
However the barman is not as straight forward as all that. Through not understanding what is being said around him, he has developed a streak of distrust. For example when he gave up the picture whose rectangle is still marked on the wall, it was with the same distrust as when he had bought it.

Jean-Baptiste, sympathises with his distrust, but by nature he is sociable and never misses the opportunity to share the company of an intelligent man.

He apologises for his love of fine language revealed in his speech e.g. using the imperfect subjunctive (page 4):
Ah ! je vois que vous bronchez sur cet imparfait du subjonctif. J'avoue ma faiblesse pour ce mode, et pour le beau langage, en général.
He claims no virtue from speaking well.
Jean-Baptiste asks about Paris. Cynically he attributes to the Parisians two pre-occupations ideas and fornication, and the same for all Europe - future historians will say:­
Page 5 - il forniquait et lisait des journaux. Apres cette forte définition, le sujet sera, si j'ose dire, épuisé.
To the other man's question, Jean-Baptiste, says the Dutch are not the same­ they are much less modern.
He looks at the pimps and prostitutes who surround them. Occasionally they murder each other, but they're not keen on it. It's just the role life calls on them to play
page 5 - De temps on temps, ces messieurs jouent du couteau ou du revolver, mail no croyez pas qu'ils y tiennent. Le rôle l'exige, voilà tout, et ils meurent de peur en lâchant leurs dernières cartouches.
But this is life, which involves devouring each other like parana fish.
For the ordinary decent man these teeth which devour you are your job, your family, your organised leisure.
Sardonically he says that life is a question of who will devour whom.
Page 5 - après tout: c'est à qui nettoiera l'autre.
The barman brings them their gins calling Jean-Baptiste “doctor”. Jean-Baptiste remarks that the Dutch are respectful. Spitefulness is not a national institution (N.B. is this a sign of Camus' resentment against the French after the bitterness of his quarrel with Sartre?)
Jean-Baptiste says he was a barrister but now is a judge doing penitence.
Page 6 – Si vous voulez le savoir, j’étais avocat avant de venir ici. Maintenant, je suis juge-pénitent.
He introduces himself as Jean-Baptiste Clamence. He tries to guess what the other man is. He replies to the question whether he is in business - more or less.
Like Jean-Baptiste he is in his forties, well educated, experienced. He knows what Jean-Baptiste means when he calls him a Sadducee for not sharing his riches with the poor - so the stranger knows the scriptures.
Jean Baptiste asks the stranger what he makes of him –
The physique of a rugby player (like Camus) (Page 6 book)
Par la taille, les épaules, et ce visage dont on m’a souvent dit qu’il était farouche, j’aurais plutôt l’air d’un joueur de rugby, n’est-ce pas?
Yet he has the conversation of a man of refinement.
Now he is shabby of dress but still well groomed. (Page 6 book): Le chameau qui a fourni le poil de mon pardessus souffrait sans doute de la gale : en revanche, j’ai les ongles faits.
Looking intelligent but confiding in absolute strangers. Finally with his education and manners he is nevertheless a regular in a low bar.
Thus he is a man of contradictions as he is by profession - a judge but a penitent.
Page 7 - Mon métier est double, voilà tout, comme la créature. Je vous l’ai déjà dit, je suis juge-pénitent.          
Although he was rich, he has now nothing.  Thus Jean-Baptiste is also a Sadducee.
(Is this a rebuttal of the taunt made against Camus by Sartre that he was an almsgiver i.e. a person who sought to alleviate social wrongs but was unable to take the violent action to change the system?)
 However, in fact, Jean-Baptiste does talk later of his acts of charity.
Atmosphere of Amsterdam. They hear the sirens from the port. There will be fog that night on the Zuyderzee.
The stranger has to leave. Jean-Baptiste insists on paying for the drinks and is invited by the Frenchman to join him there the next day.
The Frenchman asks the way and Jean-Baptiste offers to accompany him as far as the port. The stranger is staying in a good hotel in the big avenue, Jean-Baptiste lives in the Jewish quarter.
Jean-Baptiste talks of it as the scene of one of the greatest crimes in history. 75,000 Jews deported or murdered. Such events make human distrust understandable e.g. that of the barman.
He gives two devastating examples of the absurdity of attempts at humanity in a cruel world.
(1) In his little village, a German officer courteously asked an old lady to choose which one of her sons should be shot by the Germans in an action of reprisal.
(2) The humanist during the wars of religion who left his door open to all comers was murdered.
Page 8 - (his invitation) D'où que vous veniez, entrez et soyez les bienvenus.
The militiamen answered the invitation and disembowelled him.
Jean-Baptiste says he enjoys walking the streets of Amsterdam feeling the warmth of the gin inside him.
He apologises for talking too much - it is an overflow of words.
Page 8 - Mais c'est le trop-plein; dès que j'ouvre la bouche, les phrases coulent.
N.B. The inspiration of the country of Holland. Jean-Baptiste loves the country - the teeming population - the mist and the cold. He likes it as there is an element of duplicity. It is here and it is else­where.
They may appear to be firmly fixed here in their prosaic everyday lives, but in their minds the Dutch are far away in the romance of their former colonies. Indonesia, whose Gods remind these nostalgic colonialists that:
Page 9 - la Hollande n'est pas seulement 1'Europe des marchands, mais la mer, la mer qui mène à Cipango, et a ces îles où les hommes meurent fous et heureux.
He pictures the canals of Amsterdam as concentric. The centre of them is like the inner circle of hell, where the fornicators and newspaper readers of Europe are drawn - as to the last circle of Hell. The circle of  ….But his listener apparently completes the sentence - the last circle is the circle of traitors.
He leaves the Frenchman before they reach the bridge - afraid that someone could throw himself in. Facing him with two alternatives to dive in the cold water and suffer the consequences to his health or walk away and suffer the strains on his conscience.
The Frenchman is fascinated to see the prostitutes displayed behind the window fronts.
Jean-Baptiste invites him to sample this escape to the Indies.
Page 10 - La rêve, monsieur, le rêve à peu de frais, le voyage aux Indes !

At the second meeting the second Frenchman begins by asking for an explanation of the phrase juge-pénitent, which has been puzzling him.
Jean-Baptiste offers to explain but says he must fill in some background facts first.
Page 10.   Qu’est-ce qu’un juge pénitent?..............  Mais il faut d’abord vous exposer un certain nombre de faits qui vous aideront à mieux comprendre mon récit.
He was a well known barrister in Paris. Jean-Baptiste C. is not his real name.
He specialised in noble causes - the weak, the victimised.
Page 10 - Il me suffisait cependant de renifler sur un accusé la plus légère odeur de victime pour que mes manches entrassent en action. Et quelles actions Une tempête;
He is sure that the other man would have admired his pleading in court - controlled indignation - warmth and persuasion.
Favoured by nature, the noble attitude comes to him easily.
Page 10 summary notes- La nature; m'a bien servi quant au physique, l'attitude noble me vient sans effort.
He was sustained by two feelings.
(1) Satisfaction at finding himself on the right side of the bar.
(2)   A contempt for judges in general. He couldn't understand how anyone could want to be a judge.
Page 11 book- …il faille des juges, n’est-ce pas ?  Pourtant, je ne pouvais pas comprendre qu’un homme se désignât lui-même pour exercer cette surprenante fonction.
Feeling himself on the right side gave him the necessary self esteem: - without this a man is like a foaming dog.
He quotes the case of one of his clients. He was a man who had a perfect wife but was deceiving her. Unable to live with the sense of wrong, he killed her (N.B. the effective narrative).
Page 11 - Plus sa femme ne montrait de perfections, plus il enrageait.  A la fin, son tort lui devint insupportable, Que croyez-vous qu'il fit alors? Il cessa de la tromper? …Non. Il la tua.
His position was more enviable - not only was there no danger of him joining the criminals but he joined in their defence - provided they were good murderers.
He was incorruptible - took no bribes, honours, nor solicited any favours.
Je n’ai jamais accepté de pot-de-vin, cela va sans dire, mais je ne me suis jamais abaissé non plus à aucune démarche.  Chose plus rare, je n’ai jamais consenti à flatter aucun journaliste, pour me le rendre favorable, ni aucun fonctionnaire dont l’amitié pût être utile.
He did not charge the poor clients and kept his charity secret. He sees no merit in this. He simply lacked an instinct of greed.
Page 12 l’avidité qui, dans notre société, tient lieu d’ambition, m’a toujours fait rire.
He aimed higher.
His satisfaction was gained from his own nature.
This wish to help the weak and innocent came to dominate his life - to help the blind man to cross the road - the motorist to push a broken down car etc.
Also his courtesy was famous - giving up his seat on the under­ground, letting someone take his taxi - this made his day. He lists many other gestures.
Page 13 - exploits que j'accomplissais plus souvent que d'autres parce que j'étais plus attentif aux occasions de le faire et que j'en retirais des plaisirs mieux savourés.
He spoke also of his generosity. He gave a lot in public and in private - and got great pleasure from it.
Page 13  Je passais aussi pour généreux et je l’étais.  J’ai beaucoup donné, en public et dans le privé
One of his pleasures arose from a melancholic realisation of the fruitless nature of his gifts and the ingratitude of the recipient.
Another example of the delights he found in his life and his work was to hear the expression of eternal gratitude e.g. from the wife of a man whom he had defended merely out of a sense of justice or pity.
At this point, he achieved his ambition.
Page 14 – Etre arrêté, par exemple, dans les couloirs du palais par la femme d’un accusé qu’on a défendu pour la seule justice ou pitié, je veux dire gratuitement, entendre cette femme dire que rien, non rien ne pourra reconnaître ce qu’on a fait pour eux……c’est atteindre plus haut que l'ambitieux vulgaire et se hisser à ce point culminant où la vertu ne se nourrit plus que d'elle-­même.
These heights were the objectives of Jean-Baptiste who aimed higher and the only  places where he could live.
Even physically he preferred the high places (the mountains) to the depths (potholes).
He climbed onto the heights to receive popular acclaim.
Page 15 - A toute heure du jour, en moi-même et parmi les autres, je grimpais sur la hauteur, j'y allumais des feux apparents, et une joyeuse salutation s'élevait vers moi. C'est ainsi, du moins, que je prenais plaisir à la vie et à ma propre excellence.
His profession helped. He felt above the judges, whom he judged in his turn and above the accused whom he forced into gratitude.
Living above the rest is the way to be seen and applauded by the greatest number.
It was this need to avoid anonymity that had caused some of his clients to kill - all that was needed was to kill one’s landlady.
The reputation the killers enjoyed in the newspapers was short-lived however. His reputation as the lawyer continued.
Page 15 - Les juges punissaient, les accusés expiaient et moi, libre de tout devoir, soustrait au jugement comme a la sanction, je régnais, librement, dans une lumière édénique.
He has always found it easy to get on with people –
Not bad looking (Page 16 book) Je n’étais pas mal fait de ma personne.
A tireless dancing partner
A discreet man of learning
He loved women and justice. –( which he says isn't very easy)
He practised sports
He involved himself in the arts.
His life was a success.
Page 16 - Mais imaginez, je vous prie, un homme dans la force de l'âge de parfaite santé, généreusement doué, habile dans les exercices du corps comme dans ceux de l'intelligence, ni pauvre ni riche, dormant bien, et profondément content de lui-même sans le montrer autrement que par une sociabilité heureuse. Vous admettrez alors que je puisse parler, en toute modestie, d’une vie réussie.
He felt in perfect harmony with all aspects of life.  (page 16) De là cette harmonie en moi, cette maîtrise détendue que les gens sentaient et dont ils m’avouaient parfois qu’elle les aidait à vivre.
He enjoyed the things of the flesh and self content made him a popular companion.
Page 16 On recherchait donc ma compagnie.
He felt something of a superman.
Page 16 - En vérité, à force d'être homme, avec tant de plénitude et de simplicité, je me trouvais un peu surhomme.
He came from a good but humble background - his father had been an Officer –
(page 17 book)  J’étais d’une naissance honnête, mais obscure (mon père était officier)…
Nevertheless, some mornings, he felt himself a king’s son or Moses’ burning bush.
He always felt picked out for success.
Page 17 - Non, à force d'être comblé, je me sentais, j’hésite à l'avouer, désigné. Désigné personnellement, entre tous, pour cette longue et constante réussite.
He thinks that there is some modesty in this from the fact that he did not attribute his success to his merits alone.
This belief held him high until - at this Jean-Baptiste stops himself - this is another matter.
He then says he is perhaps exaggerating because in fact he was never satisfied.
Page 17 - Chaque joie m'en faisait désirer une autre. J'allais de fête en fête. Il m'arrivait de danser pendant des nuits, de plus en plus fou des titres et de la vie.
Sometimes when worn out by his pleasures, he would in his weariness for a brief second have the impression that he understood the secret of people and the world - but he recovered his energy and took up this mad whirl of pleasure again.
Page 17 Parfois, tard dans ces nuits où la danse, l’alcool léger, mon déchaînement le violent abandon de chacun…….me jetaient dans un ravissement à la fois las et comblé il me semblait, à l’extrémité de la fatigue, et l’espace d’une seconde, que je comprenais enfin le secret des êtres et du monde.
He continued this hectic life until the evening when the music stopped.
Page 17 - Je courais ainsi, toujours comblé, jamais rassasié, sans savoir où m'arrêter, jusqu'au jour, jusqu’au soir plutôt où la musique s'est arrêtée, les lumières se sont éteintes.
Ho needs another drink. He beckons the barman. He tells his companion he needs his sympathy. His friend is surprised.
Jean-Baptiste says everyone has a sudden need of sympathy, help and friendship. He has learnt to satisfy himself with sympathy because it is easy to find and doesn't commit you. Sympathy is glibly expressed. Friendship is long in obtaining and can never be got rid of.
Page 18 L’amitié, c’est moins simple.  Elle est longue et dure à obtenir, mais quand on l’a, plus moyen de s’en débarrasser.
But don't think your friends will phone you on the night when, lonely, you are thinking of killing yourself.
In fact, they will push you into suicide out of a sense of what they, in their respect for you, feel you owe yourself.
Page 18 - Le suicide, ils vous y pousseraient plutôt, en vertu de ce que vous vous devez à vous-même, selon eux. Le ciel nous préserve, cher monsieur, d'être placés trop haut par nos amis:
Relatives whose function it is to love us- that is another story. They are assiduous in their attentions and always hit the mark.
The other man is pushing Jean-Baptiste to tell him what happened on the evening (when the music stopped).
Jean-Baptiste asks for patience - this business of friends he feels is relevant.
He gives an example of true friendship - the man who lay on the floor of his bedroom to suffer like his friend in prison. Real friendship is difficult:
Page 19 - l'amitié est distraite, ou du moins impuissante. Cc qu'elle veut, elle ne le peut pas. Peut-être, après tout, ne le veut-elle pas assez?
It is easier for us to love dead friends because with them there is no obligation, except to memory and our memory is short. We like painful death in our friends, because we enjoy our own emotion - ourselves in fact.
Page 19 - Non, c'est le mort frais que nous aimons chez nos amis, le mort douloureux, notre émotion, nous-mêmes enfin.'

He had a friend who annoyed him (because he had moral standards) but when he was dying he never missed a day's visit. A woman who chased him got a tender place only because she had the taste to die young - and oh the fuss over a suicide.
The love of man involves self love: ­
Page 19 - L'homme est ainsi, cher monsieur, il a deux faces: il ne peut pas aimer sans s'aimer.
They need tragedy as an aperitif in life:
Page 19 - Ils ont besoin de la tragédie,que voulez-vous, c'est leur petite transcendance, c'est leur apéritif.
Look how one’s neighbours fuss over the death of, say, a landlord. - He had one, a monster of insignificance and spite, whom he refused to talk to. Yet when he died, Jean-Baptiste, went to his funeral.
All the tenants and their servants in the building enjoyed the two days before the funeral. The body was laid out in the landlord's lodge, next to the bed where his wife lay ill. They called at the lodge to pick up their mail and listen to the praises of the dead from his wife.
Jean-Baptiste was the only one at the funeral along with a night club chucker-out. After, he returned to get the thanks of the wife.
Why did he do it? No reason except that it was his aperitif.
He went to the funeral of a colleague, a simple clerk, not highly regarded. Just as his habit of shaking hands with everyone, gained him popularity, so did the fact that he had inconvenienced himself to go to this funeral.
Page 20 Là où je travaillais, je serrais toutes les mains d’ailleurs, et plutôt deux fois qu’une.  Cette cordiale simplicité me valait, à peu de frais, la sympathie de tous, nécessaire à mon épanouissement.
The other man is still pressing Jean-Baptiste, to tell him what happened the night the music stopped. Jean-Baptiste insists on telling the sequel to the story of the landlady.
Having spent all her money on her husband's coffin and funeral, she got herself fixed up a month later with an oaf who used to beat her. Afterwards he would open the window and sing tender love songs.

Page 21 - Femmes, que vous êtes jolies: (the absurd). Nothing proves though they didn't love each other - no matter what the neighbours said.
Finally he ran away and the landlady resumed her praise of her dead husband.
Jean-Baptiste is hesitant to criticise because things don't look good. Some people who look good are neither constant nor sincere.
He knew a man who had sacrificed 20 years of his life to a scatterbrain woman and then realised he hadn't loved her. He had sacrificed his friendships, his work, and the very decency of his life. Why? Because he had been bored, he had created a life of complication and drama.
Page 21 - Il s'ennuyait, voilà tout, il s'ennuyait, comma la plupart des gens. Il s'était donc créé de toutes pièces une vie de complications et de drames.
This is the reason for most human actions. Yet Jean-Baptiste, wasn't bored on that fatal evening.
Night was falling on the Seine one Autumn evening. He had had a good day - a blind
client - in the afternoon a brilliant statement of his unimpeachable left wing views to his friends:
Page 22 - La journée avait été bonne: un aveugle, la réduction de peine que j'espérais, la chaude poignée de main de mon client, quelques générosités et, dans l'après-midi, une brillante improvisation, devant quelques amis, sur la dureté do cœur de notre classe dirigeante et l'hypocrisie de nos élites,
Standing on the Pont des Arts he felt a sense of power and achievement.
Just then a laugh burst out behind him. He spun round but saw no one. He looked over the other parapet and saw no one and no boat.
When he turned back he heard the laugh again - fading as if going down the river. His heart was beating furiously.
The laugh was quite natural and friendly, not at all mysterious.
However, as he moved away from the river he was bewildered and upset.
He needed company that night, but his friend wasn't in when he rang him. Under his window he heard laughter again. He looked out and saw some young people happily saying goodbye.
When he went into the bathroom for a drink, it seemed that his smile was double.
Page 23 -, Mon image souriait dans la glace, mais il me sembla que mon sourire était double.
Jean-Baptiste’s mind wanders. His friend speaks to him. He says he has to go now as one of the customers in the bar wishes to consult him.  The other man says this man looks like a murderer.
Jean-Baptiste admits it and says he is a burglar specialising in pictures with some famous thefts to his credit.
Page 23Vous estimez qu’il a une tête de tueur ?  Soyez sûr que c’est la tête de l’emploi. Il cambriole aussi bien……..
The other man is astonished at his knowledge of the underworld.
Jean-Baptiste says his hobby is to be judicial adviser to these good folk. He does it out of interest and out of conviction.
If these pimps end thieves were all found guilty, decent men would always be able to think themselves innocent and that should be avoided at all cost.
Page 23 - Si les souteneurs et las voleurs étaient toujours et partout condamnés, les honnêtes gens se croiraient tous et sans cesse innocents, cher monsieur. Et selon moi - voilà, voilà, je viens; - c'est surtout cela qu'il faut éviter. Il y aurait de quoi rire, autrement.
At the next meeting Jean-Baptiste shows their growing intimacy by addressing the other as “Mon cher compatriote”. The other man is pressing him about the laugh. Jean-Baptiste says there was nothing mysterious about it. He thought about if for a few days, then forgot it. However at intervals he seemed to hear it again within himself.
Page 23 - j'ai pensé un peu à ce rire, pendant quelques jours, puis je l'ai oublié. De loin en loin, il me semblait l'entendre, quelque part en moi.
Whenever he went near the Seine afterwards there was a sense of apprehension. This period was also a time when he had health problems.
Page 24 J’eus aussi, à ce moment, quelques misères de santé.  Rien de précis, de l’abattement si vous voulez, une sorte de difficulté à retrouver ma bonne humeur
He was run down. Tonics helped for a time, than he declined again.
Living, which had previously been effortless, became less easy.
Jean-Baptiste complains that tonight he finds it hard to express himself. He suggests a walk in the town.
Ha admires the canals as they walk but admits he has to force himself. He prefers to be on the peak of a hill or an island. - Sicily or Java, where he went in his youth. It is easier to be the master there.
They pass an old slave trader’s house, with the signs of the trade, unashamedly on display. He remarks on their openness. Now we may have slavery in our homes and our factories but do not boast of it.
Slaves and masters are in the nature of things.
Page 25 - Je sais bien qu'on ne peut se passer de dominer ou d'être servi. Chaque homme a besoin d'esclaves comme d'air pur.
Everyone has someone under him to command.
Now we recognise in Europe that everything reduces itself finally to a matter of power: We no longer say I think such and such a thing what are your objections? We say "Such is the truth, in a few years the police will show you I am right."
(N.B. In this Camus is denouncing all dogmatism and the acceptance that groups have the right to use force to impose their ideas. It could be applied more narrowly as a criticism of the dogmatic left wing politics of Sartre and their advocacy of violent revolution).
Page 25 - Nous ne disons plus, comme aux temps naïfs: "Je pense ainsi. Quelles sont vos objections?" Nous sommes devenus lucides. Nous avons remplacé le dialogue par le communiqué. "Telle est la vérité, disons-nous. Vous pouvez toujours la discuter, ça ne nous intéresse pas. Mais dans quelques années, il y aura la police, qui vous montrera que j'ai raison."
When people serve him he likes them to do it with a smile. Thus he avoids the Chinese restaurants with their impassive waiters;
Page 26 - Comment jouir alors du poulet laqué, comment surtout, en les regardant, penser qu'on a raison?
Servitude is inevitable but we must not call slaves by their true names. It would be bad for their morale and our conscience.
It would be impossible if everyone was completely frank and stated his true profession: Cowardly philosopher, Christian landowner, adulterous humanist.
Hell must be like that: labelled once and for all with no chance of explaining oneself.
Page 26
….si tout le monde se mettait à table, hein, affichait son vrai métier, son identité, on ne saurait plus où donner de la tête!  Imaginez des cartes de visite : Dupont, philosophe froussard, ou propriétaire chrétien, ou humaniste adultère, on a le choix, vraiment.  Mais ce serait l’enfer!  Oui, l’enfer doit être ainsi : des rues à enseignes et pas moyen de s’expliquer.  On est classé une fois pour toutes.
He asks his friend what his sign will be. His friend will not reply. Jean-Baptiste says his friend will answer later.
His own sign would be a doubled sided face, with the motto “Do not trust it.” Jean_Baptiste Clamence - actor. 
Page 26 - une face double, un charmant Janus, et, au-dessus, la devise de la maison "Ne vous y fiez pas."
The mention of actor reminds him that shortly after the evening of the laughter, he escorted a blind man across the road, then raised his hat to him. Why do this to a blind man - he was taking his bow to the audience.
Around the same time when a motorist thanked him, he made a slip of the tongue and said no one would have done the same - A Freudian slip.
Page 27 - je répondis que personne n'en aurait fait autant. Je voulais dire, bien sûr, n'importe qui.
Jean-Baptiste says he has to admit that he was always bursting with vanity.
Page 27 - Moi, moi, moi, voilà le refrain de ma chère vie, et qui s'entendait dans tout ce que je disais.
He felt himself superior in every compartment of life, more intelligent, more sensitive, more skilful.
A leading marksman, incomparable driver, better lover. If he wasn't in the top class at tennis, he blamed it on lack of practice.
This sense of superiority gave him his benevolence and serenity.
Page 27 - Je ne me reconnaissais que des supériorités, ce qui expliquait ma bienveillance et ma sérénité.
When he concerned himself with others it was out of pure condescension and raised his self esteem.
These obvious facts started coming to him gradually in the period following the laughter on the bridge.
To realise the truths he had to regain his memory. Previously with his astonishing power of forgetfulness, everything - war - suicide - love - slipped over him.
Il a fallu d’abord que je retrouve la mémoire……..Jusque-là, j’avais toujours été aidé par un étonnant pouvoir d’oubli.  J’oubliais tout, et d’abord mes résolutions.  Au fond, rien ne comptait. Guerre, suicide, amour, misère, j’y prêtais attention, bien sûr, quand les circonstances m’y forçaient, mais d’une manière courtoise et superficielle.
Sometimes his forgetfulness was praiseworthy. He would forget wrongs done by someone to him, so completely gone from his mind that he had forgotten the man's name even: (N.B, the neat irony).
Page 28 - La même infirmité qui me rendait indifférent ou ingrat me faisait alors magnanime.
He lived from day to day but everyday there was he himself still going strong. A superficial life- everything was incomplete - literature, friendships, loves:­
Page 28,- Tous ces livres à peine lus, ces amis à peine aimés, ces villes à peine visitées, ces femmes à peine prises; Je faisais des gestes par ennui, ou par distraction.
He acted out of boredom or absent mindedness. Until his memory returned - but before he tells how he found his memory again,-he wishes to tell of some experiences he had in his voyage of exploration on the way to its rediscovery.
One day he was slow getting away at the traffic lights and the other drivers behind started to sound their horns. This brought back another incident which had happened some time before.
A little man on a motor cycle had stalled his motor-bike in front of him at the lights. Jean-Baptiste asked him with his usual politeness to move over to let him pass.  The man told him to go and get lost. Still polite, Jean-Baptiste used more firmness but the man offered to beat his head in.
Angry at this, Jean-Baptiste got out to deal with him, standing a head taller than the motor-cyclist and being strongly built, Jean-Baptiste would probably not have laid a finger on him. However, a crowd was gathering and someone in the crowd called Jean-Baptiste the lowest of the low for threatening a man at such a physical disadvantage. As Jean-Baptiste turned away, the man in the crowd gave him a violent thump on the ear and little man made off on his motor bike.
Jean-Baptiste made towards the man in the crowd, but the horns of the cars behind him made him regain his car docilely. The man shouted "pauvre type." as he drove past.
It took him a long time to get over this incident. He saw it as a humiliation.
Page 30 - Je m'étais en somme dégonflé publiquement, par suite d'un concours de circonstances, il est vrai, mais il y a toujours dos circonstances.
He used to picture what he should have done, knocked down the man in the crowd and then chased and caught the motor cyclist. But it was too late.
As it is raining Jean-Baptiste and his friend shelter under the porch.
When he recalled this incident later, he realised the true significance of his own reaction. He had seen himself as the complete man - in physical matters as well.
Page 30 - J'avais rêvé, cela était clair maintenant, d’être un homme complet, qui se serait fait respecter dans sa personne comme dans son métier. Moitié  Cerdan et, moitié de Gaulle.
But having allowed himself to be hit in public this illusion was destroyed. Had he been the intelligent, honest person he pictured himself, he would have said he had got angry at nothing, and had lacked presence of mind. Instead he wanted revenge. As if his real wish was simply to be the strongest.
This is the dream of intelligent men e.g, who can do so by joining the most cruel political parties
(.NB Is this another reference to Sartre?).
Thus intellectual honesty comes second to power.
Page 31 Qu'importe, n’est-ce pas, d'humilier son esprit si l'on arrive par là à dominer tout le monde?
At least he discovered that he was only on the side of the guilty as long as it did him no harm. When threatened, he became a judge and master.
Page 31 - Quand j'étais menacé, je ne devenais pas seulement un juge à mon tour, mais plus encore: un maître irascible qui voulait, hors de toute loi, assommer le délinquant et le mettre à genoux.
With this realisation, it was difficult for him to continue to believe in his vocation to defend the oppressed.
The rain is getting heavier and they sit on a bench in a shelter.
Jean-Baptiste tells another story which he finds even more difficult to tell - about a woman.
He always succeeded with women - succeeded that is to get what he wanted.
With the advantage of his appearance, he charmed women. A typically sardonic description of charm.
Page 32 - On me trouvait du charme, imaginez cela! Vous savez ce qu'est le charme: une manière de s'entendre répondre oui sans avoir posé aucune question claire.
He acted in good faith, which is no more trickery than is expected in these things.
Page 32 Mon rapport avec les femmes était naturel, aisé, facile comme on dit. Il n’y entrait pas de ruse ou seulement celle, ostensible, qu’elles considèrent comme un hommage.
He loved them all i.e. he loved none. He always respected women, esteeming them better than himself and yet he always used them. How did that come about?
Love is rare - two or three cases per century - the rest of the time it is vanity or boredom.
He is sentimental by nature and easily moved.
Page 32 - Je n'ai pas le cœur sec, il s'en faut, plein d'attendrissement au contraire, et la larme facile avec ça.
It is not true he never loved. His great love was himself.
Sensuality ruled his love life – he sought pleasure and conquest and nature had favoured him for this.
For ten minutes sex he would have denied his mother and father -especially for a brief passing encounter.
Page 33 Dans tous les cas, ma sensualité, pour ne parler que d’elle était si réelle que, même pour une aventure de dix minutes, j’aurais renié père et mère, quitte à le regretter amèrement.
He had principles. He wouldn't touch the wife of a friend. He simply ended the friendship a few days before!
He prefers to view this sensuality as his congenital infirmity, He could see in sex nothing more than the act. This coupled with his faculty for forgetting helped his freedom.
In addition this air of remoteness and unconquerability incited more women to attempt his conquest. Like Bonaparte women always expect to succeed where all the rest have failed.
Women also satisfied another need - his love of play and recreation. He hates being bored and with women he liked he was never bored. Regretfully, he admits that he would have preferred a date with a ballerina to ten conversations with Einstein.
His mind would wander from the most heated discussion if a devastating woman walked past.
Thus he went along with the game- the conversation and the tenderness, as they call it, which precedes sex. As a Barrister and a former trainee actor this chat was easy:
Page 34 - Je n'étais pas en peine de discours, étant avocat, ni de regards, ayant été, au régiment, apprenti comédien.
It was always the same play, but he varied his roles. e.g. the old number about your indefinable charm - it's senseless - I didn't want to be attracted etc. - also: the mysterious happiness no other woman has given you, which, even though it cannot go on, can never be replaced.
Especially an emotional speech he had perfected about the tragedy of his fate - denied the happiness of others - how it wasn't worth becoming attracted to him.
The ladies joined in the act and doing their utmost to understand him gave themselves. By these seductions, he satisfied his desires and also his vanity because in this he proved his powers.
This was so true that even with women with whom he had not enjoyed love so much, he felt the need to get together again. Partly it was one of the odd effects which absence has, but also the need to prove to himself that it was only up to him to pull them together as he wished.
Sometimes he even went as far as making them swear never to belong to another man. A certain pretension in him could not imagine, in spite of the facts, that a woman once his, could ever again belong to anyone else.
But once they had made the oath of eternal loyalty he was free to break off their relationship because he had made his point.
Page 35 - Du moment qu'elles n'appartiendraient a personne, je pouvais alors me décider à rompre, ce qui, autrement, m'était presque toujours impossible. La vérification, en ce qui les concernait, était fait une fois pour toutes, mon pouvoir assure pour longtemps.
He sums this up - a certain kind of people cry out "Do not love me and be faithful to me."
But the proof is never final. It has to be started again with other people. Then it becomes a habit without desire at all. For some people to refuse what one does not desire is the hardest thing in the world.
Page 35 - Croyez-moi, pour certains êtres, au moins, ne pas prendre ce qu'on ne désire pas est la chose la plus difficile du monde.
This is what happened one day with one woman - she hadn't really made a great impression on him but he had been attracted by her passive avid appearance. The sex was mediocre. However he forgot and didn't think she had noticed. Several weeks later, he learnt that she had confided to a third party his inadequacies.
He tried to shrug it off - One had to be modest about sexuality with all the unpredictable factors involved. But even in solitude it was a question of who would appear to the best advantage.
Consequently he saw her shortly afterwards and seduced her - this time taking her really. She also needed the same reassurance.
From then on he mortified her as much as possible - dropping her, then taking her back, until they reached the point where they had a jailer - prisoner relationship. Finally in a moment of passion she gave homage to what held her enslaved. That day he began to move apart from her. Since he has forgotten her.
Jean-Baptiste realises in spite of the polite silence of his companion that the story is not very inspiring. But he suggests that the other man could tell a similar one if he searched his memory. (N.B. Jean-Baptiste is beginning to associate the listener with himself.)
When Jean-Baptiste’s memory returned he laughed at this business, but now it was a different laugh and included as its target not only his seductive chat to women but also his barrister’s pleas in court.
Page 36 - Quant à moi, lorsque cette affaire me revint à l'esprit, je me mis encore à rire. Mais c'était d'un autre rire, assez semblable à celui que j'avais entendu sur le pont des Arts. Je riais de mes discours et de mes plaidoiries.
His speeches in court disturbed him more. At least in his actions in love, his true nature could not be concealed.
Page 37 - Du moins, me voyant agir avec les êtres, je ne pouvais pas me tromper sur la vérité de ma nature. Nul homme n’est hypocrite dans ses plaisirs, ai-je lu cela ou l'ai-je pensé, mon cher compatriote?
It wasn't tenderness which made it difficult for him to break with a woman. If a woman threatened to make the first move to break off, then he would plead with her, excited by this refusal, alarmed at losing her. Sometimes he thought himself sincere. However if the woman left altogether or came back - then he forgot her.
Page 37 - Il suffisait pourtant que la rebelle partit vraiment pour que je 1'oubliasse sans effort, comme je l'oubliais près de moi quand elle avait décidé, au contraire, de revenir.
His desire was simply to be loved and receive what was his due. Once loved and the partner forgotten he was at his best, radiant and popular.                 
Mind you this affection, once won, did seem      a weight. The best solution would have been for the girl to die once        their relationship had been settled. But he adds sardonically   that he could not expect to depopulate the planet. In any case this would have offended his sensitivity and his humanity.                 
The one deep sentiment he had was of gratitude, when he was granted peace and also freedom by the women to come and go from one to another.
Although his sentiments were confused, the result was clear: he kept his affections around him to use as he wished.
Page 38 - Quelle que fut, d'ailleurs, la confusion apparente de mes sentiments, le résultat que j'obtenais était clair: je maintenais toutes mes affections autour de moi pour m'en servir quand je le voulais.
The women had to be dedicated to Jean-Baptiste, devoid of life until he turned his light on them.
He doesn't get any pleasure from these recollections. He consults his friend whether the slight burning sensation he feels might be shame or something to do with honour. This sensation has never left him since this adventure, whose telling he has been putting off by his deliberate digressions. He hopes his friend appreciates the invention he has shown in doing this.
The emotional strain of the prospect of telling this story is so great that Jean-Baptiste is tired and asks his friend to walk home with him.
Page 38 - Je suis fatigué, étrangement, non d'avoir parlé, mais à la seule idée de ce qu'il me faut encore dire.
He summons the courage to tell the story barely and quickly.

One night in November, two or three years before he had thought he heard the laughter on the bridge, he had been crossing the Pont Royal at 1 a.m. feeling good after leaving a girl friend. Leaning over the parapet was a slim young woman. He was attracted by the bare nape of the neck but moved on.
He had gone 50 yards down river, towards St. Michel when he heard a splash of a body hitting the water, very loud in the silence of night. He stopped. He heard a cry, going down the river which stopped abruptly.
He was trembling, he wanted to act quickly, but a weakness over­came him. Perhaps he thought: too late.
He continued to listen motionless - then walked away. He notified no-one.
They have arrived at Jean-Baptiste’s house and arranged a trip to the Zuyderzee the next day.
The Frenchman asks about the woman. Jean-Baptiste says he doesn't know anything. He didn't read the newspapers on the following days.
Jean-Baptiste takes his friend to see the showpiece tourist village on the Isle of Marken but leads him away to show his French friend what impresses him on the island.
Far away from the village on the dike, they face a blank vista of sand-dunes, colourless sea and sky. To Jean-Baptiste this is the finest negative scenery.
Page 40 - Rien que des horizontales, aucun éclat, l'espace est incolore, la vie morte. N'est-ce pas l'effacement universel, le néant sensible aux yeux?
He concedes to his friend that the sky is alive, with moving clouds and pigeons - but the pigeons seem to wheel forever unable to find a pinnacle on which to settle.
He apologises for the obscurity of what he has said. He blames on fatigue the fact that he lacks lucidity which his friends usually praised.
Page 40 - Je perds le fil de mes discours, je n'ai plus cette clarté d'esprit à laquelle mes amis se plaisaient à rendre hommage.
He adds that he has no friends now - only accomplices - which means the whole human race.
Page 40 - Je n'ai plus d'amis, je n'ai que des complices. En revanche, leur nombre a augmenté, ils sont le genre humain.
The Frenchman is now his first accomplice as the person who happens to be there always is.
To the question how he knows he has no friends, Jean-Baptiste says he discovered it the day he decided to commit suicide, to play a nice trick on them and to punish them in some way – In fact some would have been surprised but none punished.
But it wouldn't have got him very far in any case. One isn't there to see one's friends’ reactions. If you were sure there was a soul who could see them, then suicide would be a way out. The only way you can prove your sincerity and the seriousness of your

sufferings is to kill yourself. But it is only worth the trouble if you can enjoy the spectacle of proving yourself right.
However, it is not possible to do this. To make your point you have to die pure and simple. In any case, it is probably better we don't see. We would see indifference e.g. the daughter who committed suicide to punish her father - three Sundays later he had taken up his favourite spin fishing again - to forget;
You think you are punishing your wife by dying. In fact, you are giving her back her freedom.
Also we would be upset to see the reasons they give for our suicide.  In his case because he couldn't stand to….            Jean-Baptiste stops himself.
They will seek one reason - when there are many for such a deed. You die for your image - but they will take advantage, giving idiotic, vulgar motives. He ends with a typically sardonic epigram.
Page 42 - Les martyrs, cher ami, doivent choisir d'être oubliés, raillés ou utilisés. Quant à être compris, jamais.
And then getting to the root of it - his real weakness is that he loves life„ He has no concept of anything beyond it. He recognises that this lack of detachment, which makes him unable to sacrifice himself for an ideal, is somewhat vulgar and plebian. But he would yield on principle out of love for himself.
What was his reaction to all this-  disgust at himself? No it was above all disgust with others.
He regretted his failings but continued to forget them. It was the trial of others which went on in his heart.
Page 42 Certes, je connaissais mes défaillances et je les regrettais.  Je continuais pourtant de les oublier, avec une obstination assez méritoire.  Le procès des autres au contraire, se faisait sans trêve dans mon cœur.
He recognises that this was not logical but the aim was to avoid judgment. Not to avoid punishment, because punishment without judgment can be ascribed to bad luck.
Pale 42 - Non, il s'agit au contraire de couper au jugement, d’éviter d'être toujours jugé sans que jamais la sentence soit prononcée.
But it is not easy to avoid judgment.  People are always ready to judge others - listen to the gossip in the holiday hotels - the writings of the great men of the moment,
If the animal trainer has the least cut on his face, the animals scenting blood will devour him. Thus when he began to suspect he wasn't so admirable, he was bleeding a little and had to watch out.
Page 43 - J'ai compris cela d'un coup, le jour où le soupçon m'est venu que, peut-être, je n'étais pas si admirable. Dès lors, je suis devenu méfiant. Puisque je saignais un peu, j'y passerais tout entier; ils allaient me dévorer.
Although outwardly he was still the same, he was only aware of the disorder within him, Instead of being the centre of a comfortable circle of friends, it seemed that now they sat in line before him, to judge him - that they were laughing at him,
Page 43 - A partir du moment où j'ai appréhendé qu'il y eût en moi quelque chose à juger, j'ai compris, en somme, qu'il y avait en eux une vocation irrésistible de jugement. Oui, ils étaient, là comme avant, mais ils riaient.
When he stumbled and once fell in public he retained the unreasonable suspicion that he had been tripped up - He became aware of enemies in his social life and in his profession. This could have been expected. However, what upset him most was to discover enemies among people he hardly knew or didn't know at all. With his full life: he had had to refuse advances and invitations and this had been resented - women had cost him dear in this respect, taking his time up.
Jean-Baptiste sees in this an inescapable dilemma. To enjoy yourself you have to devote yourself to yourself, but this will bring criticism.
Page 44 - Mais pour être heureux, il ne faut pas trop s'occuper des autres. Dès lors, les issues sont fermées. Heureux et jugé, ou  absous et misérable.
Ironically, he was blamed for happiness which was now at an end for him.
Criticism had been all around him, but he had been unaware of it. When lucidity came to him, all this struck home at once. The universe began to laugh around him,
Page 44 - Du jour où je fus alerté, la lucidité me vint, je reçus toutes les blessures en même temps et je perdis mes forces d'un seul coup. L'univers entier se mit alors à rire autour de moi.
There is no-one, except the ascetic sages who can stand this. Thus people rush to pass judgment, in order to deflect it from them­selves - what do you expect? The most natural idea of man is the sense of his own innocence. Like the little Frenchman in Buchenwald, who wished to lodge a complaint - he was an exceptional case - he was innocent!
Everyone demands to be innocent, even if he has to accuse the whole human race and heaven to achieve it.
Page 45 - Chacun exige d'être innocent, à tout prix, même si, pour cela, il faut accuser le genre humain et le ciel.
We prefer to think our good deeds spring from our inborn goodness, rather than our conscious efforts to be good. Inversely, the criminal prefers to believe that his bad deeds are attributable to his circumstances, rather than to the inborn badness of his character And yet we are not responsible for the character we are born with as we are equally not responsible for the circumstances which shape our lives.
However illogical we may be, we must prove our innocence. Our innate goodness must be unquestionable, our errors merely temporary caused by fleeting misfortune,
Judgment can be postponed if one is rich, cuckooned in the comfortable isolation of luxury - but only postponed.
Above all if a friend asks for a sincere end frank opinion of himself, lie to the best of your ability.
Friendship cannot survive sincerity. People who ask for a frank opinion are seeking re-assurance not the truth.
Page 46 - Ils espèrent seulement que vous les entretiendrez dans la bonne idée qu'ils ont d'eux-mêmes, en les fournissant d’une certitude supplémentaire qu'ils puiseront dans votre promesse de sincérité,
That is why we confess usually to those like us, who share our faults. We do not wish to be corrected or improved. This would involve being judged at fault. Thus when we confess, we lack the cynicism just to continue as we are and the virtue to change ourselves:
 Page 46 - Pas assez de cynisme et pas assez de vertu. Nous n'avons ni l'énergie du mal ni celle du bien.
Thus in this position we are in a kind of moral limbo. The other man suggests that we should patiently await the final judgment.
Jean-Baptiste says perhaps we should, but we are all in a hurry. Thus he has made himself a judge penitent.
Page 46 – De la patience ?  Vous avez raison, sans doute.  Il nous faudrait la patience d’attendre le jugement dernier.  Mais voilà, nous sommes pressés. Si pressés même que j'ai été obligé de me faire juge-pénitent.
However first he had to come to terms with the laughter of his contemporaries. From the evening of the laughter on the bridge, when he had been called, he had had to seek a reply. - It wasn't easy. For a long time he couldn't find his way. He had first to see into himself, to discover that he wasn't simple - the complications of his character.
Pge 46 Il a fallu d’abord que ce rire perpétuel, et les rieurs, m’apprissent à voir plus clair en moi, à découvrir enfin que je n’étais pas simple.
He then realised the profound duplicity of his nature.
Page 47 - J'ai mis au jour la duplicité profonde de la créature. J'ai compris alors, à force de fouiller dans ma mémoire, que la modestie m'aidait à briller, 1'humilité à vaincre et la vertu à opprimer.
His disinterestedness was a means of getting what he coveted e.g. he did his utmost to avoid any reminder to his friends of his birthday so that he could enjoy self pity when they forgot it - and they admired his discretion on these occasions.
Thus all his virtues had a less edifying reverse side. It is true that he had the virtues of his faults. e.g. his egotism resulted in his acts of generosity - his betrayals didn't prevent his fidelity - through his periods of idleness he still got through a vast amount of work - his self satisfaction led to him helping his neighbour.
Yet this realisation of the compensations could not console him. On some mornings he reached the ultimate conclusion to be reached in the case against himself - that he excelled above all in contempt.
Page 48 - Ceux mêmes que j'aidais le plus souvent étaient le plus méprisés. Avec courtoisie, avec une solidarité pleine d’émotion, je crachais tous les jours à la figure de tous les aveugles.
Was there an excuse? There is one so feeble that he hesitates to advance it. The fact is that he has never been able to believe that human affairs were serious.
Page 48 - Je n'ai jamais pu croire profondément que les affaires humaines fussent choses sérieuses.
Life to him always seemed a game - either tiresome or amusing. He was astounded that others could take things so seriously that they could die for money, be driven to desperation on losing a position, sacrifice themselves for the prosperity of the family.
He found it easy to understand a friend of his who had given up smoking, but on reading of the explosion of the first H bomb took it up again.
(N.B. human preoccupations are so tiny and insignificant, when put into their true perspective by comparing them with the true evils of life.)
Doubtless, he appeared to take life seriously, playing his role at being efficient, intelligent, public spirited, indignant, indulgent, responsible, and high minded. - But he wasn't really in it. He was like the Dutch here but elsewhere.
Page 48 - J'étais comme mes Hollandais qui sont là sans y être: J'étais absent au moment où je tenais le plus de place.
In fact he has never felt completely sincere and honest except when playing football or in the theatre, activities which everyone acknowledges as a game, however seriously they play them, Thus in this area alone theatre and football does he feel innocent –
(N.B. These were also the passions of Camus).
However such an approach cannot be justified in respect of love, death - the wages of the poor. Yet he thought of true love as pure fictional romance - the dying seemed to be extremely convincing actors, his poor clients depersonalised types.
Page 49 - Les répliques de mes clients pauvres me semblaient toujours conformes au même canevas.
He did what was expected of him, but in a distracted kind of way which finally spoilt everything.
Page 49 - J'ai vécu ma vie entière sous un double signe et mes actions les plus graves ont été souvent celles où j'étais le moins engagé.
It was probably this realisation, which to add to his follies made him react violently against the judgment which he felt at work within and around him - so that he had to find a way out to avoid this judgment.
For some time his life went on as normal, He was on rails and kept moving. Page 49: J’étais sur des rails et je roulais.The praise of others increased page 49: Comme par un fait exprès, les louanges redoublaient autour de moi - and this troubled him "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you."
However now the engine had inexplicable break-downs.Page 49 : La machine se mit donc à avoir des caprices, des arrêts inexplicables.
He became obsessed by death, measuring his life expectancy and fearing he would die before his task was completed - what task he didn't know.
He had a ridiculous dread of dying without confessing his lies - Not to a priest - he was above that - but to his friends. Otherwise truth would die with him.  Page 49 ;  Une crainte ridicule me poursuivait, en effet : on ne pouvait mourir sans avoir avoué tous ses mensonges.  Non pas à un dieu ou un de ses représentants, j’étais au-dessus de ça, vous le pensez bien.  Non, il s’agissait de l’avouer aux hommes.
Nowadays the idea of hiding the truth (like the possession he has which three police forces are looking for) gives him great delight
But previously he hadn't found the recipe and was in torment. He argued within himself that it was a pretension to think that one tiny truth mattered - lost in the ocean of time - that we pay off our moral debts in the sufferings which our body inflicts on dying. - However death was a growing obsession and the compliments of his friends seemed to be increasing the lies out of all proportion.   Page 50 : Il n’empêche, le malaise grandissait, la mort était fidèle à mon chevet, je me levais avec elle, et les compliments devenaient de plus en plus insupportables
A day came when he could stand it no longer. His first reaction was eccentric. Since he was a liar he was going to display it to everyone before they found out. To forestall laughter he was going to cast himself into general derision:­
Page 50 - Pour prévenir le rire, j'imaginai donc de me jeter dans la dérision générale.
In this he could avoid judgment by putting the laughter on his side - he thought of bumping into blind men in the street, letting down the tyres of invalid cars, slapping babies on the Metro - But he didn't do it.
However he expressed this urge by denouncing publicly the spirit of humanity. He denounced the oppression which oppressed people imposed on decent people. He applauded the restaurant owner for throwing out a beggar who was putting them off their meal. He expressed approval of the Russian landowner who whipped his peasants for both saluting him and not saluting him as an equal affront. He wrote a poem in praise of the police and a piece in praise of the guillotine.
He enjoyed letting slip a "Thank God" or a "My God" when he was in the company of professional humanists - to see the fuss and confusion these "gros mots" caused.
Jean-Baptiste suspects his companion finds this childish. But there was a serious reason - he wanted to upset the play to destroy his false reputation. He no longer wished their esteem as it was not general - and it could not be as he did not share it himself.
Page 52 - Je n'en voulais plus de leur estime puisqu'elle n'était pas générale et comment aurait-elle été générale puisque je ne pouvais la partager? Alors, il valait mieux tout recouvrir, jugement et estime, d’un manteau de ridicule.
Therefore he sought to cover all both the esteem others showed to him and their judgment with a mantle of ridicule - he had to destroy the false mannequin that he
offered to the public.
Thus on giving a talk at a training course for young barristers, he told them to defend the thief by blaming the decent citizens. This was not just the stock approach of the modern progressive saying we are all guilty but by specifically claiming that the barrister should seek to reveal his own crimes. For example in the case of the husband accused of a crime of passion - what right had a barrister who had never experienced the malignity of sex to get angry?- Who is this barrister, a he-goat of lust - a pharaoh in anger - a king of idleness - he has killed no-one yet he has let deserving creatures die.
The audience was embarrassed, then took it as a joke, which they could more easily do, when Jean-Baptiste concluded with his standard speech on human dignity - the habit for Jean-Baptiste was too strong,
By these outbursts he bewildered other people in their opinion of him. But this was not enough to give him a sense of innocence. For this one has to accuse oneself in a certain way. This way he found only after he lived a life of complete dissolution. Page 53 - Voyez-vous, il ne suffit pas de s'accuser pour s'innocenter, ou sinon je serais un pur agneau. Il faut s'accuser dune certaine manière, qu'il m'a fallu beaucoup de temps pour mettre au point, et que je n'ai pas découverte avant de m'être trouvé dans l'abandon le plus complet.
Until he achieved this solution the laughter continued to float around him.

Jean-Baptiste sees that the tide is coming in and the boat will soon be leaving. He wishes to savour the sinister moments of the twilight but his listener is eager to hear more. Jean-Baptiste promises to toll him of debauchery and the “Little Ease.”


The Frenchman is deceived by the speed of the boat Jean-Baptiste assures him the boat is moving at a good speed. It is impossible to tell speed from the flat shores in the mist.
Among the Greek Islands with rocky shores in precise light one gets an impression of speed. - an exaggerated impression.
Jean-Baptiste mentions the Greek custom for men to hold hands - but we are too stuck up for that. They are seated on deck and Jean-Baptiste goes back to his story.
After his struggles, he recognised the futility of his little efforts and decided to shun the society of men - not for a desert isle but to take refuge with women - who do not condemn but merely humiliate and draw our strength. And who are thus the refuge of hunted criminals.
Page 54 Je me suis réfugié seulement auprès des femmes.  Vous le savez, elles ne condamnent vraiment aucune faiblesse : elles essaieront plutôt d’humilier ou de désarmer nos forces  C’est pourquoi la femme est la récompense, non du guerrier, mais du criminel……c’est dans le lit de la femme qu’il est généralement arrêté.
With women, he no longer used the chat. Jean-Baptiste says that at the risk of using dirty language, it seems he felt the need for love and with this need he thought himself in love. He often caught himself saying "Do you love me?" - a question he had always avoided, because it draws the answer "How about you?" If he replied "Yes" it committed him too far, and if "No" it risked ending the affair. - Needing this commitment of love from his partner, he now found himself making more and more explicit promises.
Page 55 ; J’étais donc amené à des promesses de plus en plus explicites, j’en venais à demander de mon cœur un sentiment de plus en plus vaste.
He was smitten with a false passion for a scatter-brain girl, an avid reader of romantic magazines. She spoke of love with great conviction and Jean-Baptiste found it infectious until they came to the act of love, when he discovered that the magazines had taught her to talk of love but not to make it.

After loving a parrot--, he sought the snake in the quest of the love promised in books. A love which he had never known, Bat after years of loving only himself he was out of training and he remained a man of impulse in passion. He multiplied his promises of love and had simultaneous love affairs just as previously he had had multiple liai­sons, thus causing more hurt than at the time of his fine indifference.
His parrot in desperation wanted to starve herself to death. He resigned himself to holding her hand until the engineer with graying temples, promised in her love stories, returned from Bali to relieve him,
Far from transporting him to eternity, women were adding to his errors and his deviation from the right path. He tried to give up women and live a chaste life -- but without sex he bored them and they bored him -- He had found truth, but it was deadly dull:
Page 56 -- Plus de jeu, plus de théâtre, j’étais sans doute dans la vérité, mais la vérité, cher ami, est assommante,
Despairing both love and chastity, he decided to try debauchery, which is a good substitute for love, silences the laughter and above all confers immortality.
In a certain degree of lucid intoxication, lying between two girls, drained of all desire, hope is no longer a torture, the spirit reigns, the sorrow of living has forever run its course,
Page 56 - A un certain degré d’ivresse lucide, couché, tard dans la nuit, entre deux filles, et vide de tout désir, l'espoir n’est plus une torture, voyez-vous, l'esprit règne sur tour les temps, la douleur de vivre est à jamais révolue.
He had always had this desire of immortality so that the precious object of his love should not disappear forever, Unable to achieve immortality, he sought substitutes sleeping with prostitutes and drinking whole nights long.
The next morning he had the bitter taste of the mortal condition but for long hours he had soared.
He admits that he still remembers tenderly some of those nights- Meeting his night club dancer -- even once getting in a fight for her -­the nights of sexual pleasure and arising the next morning in a morning of glory.
Drink and women gave him the only relief of which he was worthy. Debauchery is liberating because it creates no obligation.
Page 57 - Vous verrez alors que la vraie débauche est libératrice parce qu'elle ne crée aucune obligation.  On n’y possède que soi-même.
It is ideal for the great lovers of their own person.
He pays tribute to these women and mingled in the memory of them is something like respect.
He took full advantage of this liberation - living in a hotel dedicated to vice, with a mature prostitute and a girl of the best society acting as the galant to the former and teaching the latter a few truths about life -- unfortunately the prostitute has since written her story for a magazine of confessions.
The girl got married to give employment to her remarkable sexuality.
Jean-Baptiste is not unproud of having been accepted as an equal by the fraternity which frequents bars and brothels. This is typical human pride - just as a man boasts of being able to drink one bottle more than the next.
He could have found peace and deliverance in this dissipation, but his liver could not stand up to it and he suffered from a physical exhaustion which he still feels. He notes the irony. :
Page 53 - On joue à être immortel et, au bout de quelques semaines, on ne sait même plus si l'on pourra se trainer jusqu’au lendemain.
The only benefit from his nocturnal exploits, when he had ended them was that life became less painful.
Excess reduces vitality and thus suffering. The reason why a man hastens to sleep with a woman he suspects of betraying him is not only to prove his possession but also because the act weakens the jealous imagination. Similarly the metaphysical anxiety which inspires passionate excesses in the early days of marriage dies so that the marriage becomes the monotonous hearse of audacity and invention. He makes a sardonic comment on marriage.
Page 58 - Oui, cher ami, le mariage bourgeois a mis notre pays en pantoufles, et bientôt aux portes de la mort.
Jean-Baptiste recognises he is straying from the point which is that the advantage of these months was that he lived in a kind of fog where the laughter was muffled. No more emotions- an even temper or rather no temper at all. Just as lungs afflicted with tuberculosis cure themselves by drying out but in so doing kill the patient, so he was dying from his cure.
Page 59 - Les poumons tuberculeux guérissent en se desséchant et asphyxient peu à peu leur heureux propriétaire. Ainsi de moi qui mourais paisiblement de ma guérison,
He was still carrying on as a barrister, but was compromised by his disorderly life. Less from his nocturnal exploits than from the provocations of his words during his pleas in court. He referred to God in his speeches and this made the clients distrustful of a barrister who needed divine intervention and could not rely on his knowledge of the legal code.
Clients became fewer - Still in his pleas, he managed to take off but never to soar any longer.
Outside his work he saw few people -- keeping up the tedious survival of a couple of liaisons. He even passed some evenings of pure friendship, resigned to boredom, inattentive to what his woman was saying. He put on weight and thought the crisis over.
One day on a sea cruise, to which he had treated a lady friend, to celebrate his recovery (without saying so), from the upper deck he saw a black speck out at sea. He was filled with panic, wanting to cry for help. Forcing himself to look again, he saw it was just rubbish from a ship but he had thought it was a drowned person!
He understood with resignation that the cry on the Seine had floated to the Channel then to the ocean to wait for him and would wait for him forever,
Page 60 - Je compris alors, sans révolte, comme on se résigne a une idée dont on connaît depuis longtemps la vérité, que ce cri qui, des années auparavant, avait retenti sur la Seine, derrière moi, n'avait pas cessé, porté par le fleuve vers les eaux de la Manche, de cheminer dans le monde, à travers 1'étendue illimitée de l'océan, et qu'il m'y avait attendait jusqu' à ce jour où je l'avais rencontré.
He realised that he was not cured and that he was stuck forever and must put up with it. He had to admit his guilt and live in the Little Ease
Page 60 - Finie la vie glorieuse, mais finie aussi la rage et les soubresauts, Il fallait se soumettre et reconnaître sa culpabilité.  Il fallait vivre dans le malconfort.
The malconfort was a tiny dungeon in which prisoners were locked - usually for life during the Middle Ages. It was too low to allow you to stand and too small to allow you to lie down. In this constraint, J.B. says the prisoner learnt of his guilt, because innocence consists in stretching joyfully.
The Frenchman protests that one could live in such a cell and be innocent. Jean-Baptiste rejects the idea that innocence can be reduced to living hunch-backed. Moreover, his hope is that everyone is guilty and that each bears witness to the crime of the rest.
Page 61 - nous ne pouvons affirmer 1'innocence de personne, tandis que nous pouvons affirmer à coup sur la culpabilité de tous. Chaque homme témoigne du crime de tous les autres, voila ma foi, et mon espérance.
Jean-Baptiste says that religions are on the wrong track when they preach ethics (i.e. moral laws) and fulminate commandments. There's no need of a God to give an idea of guilt or for punishment. The judgment of man surpasses divine wrath. Man makes no allowances and disregards good intentions.
Page 61 Pour eux, pas de circonstances atténuantes, même la bonne intention est imputée à crime.
He recalls the spitting cell used in one country recently - a tight brick built box in which the prisoner is held motionless while the guards spit on his face - Man didn't need God to create this.
The Frenchman says "Alors?" - Asking Jean-Baptiste what he is getting at.
Jean-Baptiste says the only use God could serve would be to guarantee innocence. Religion would be a great enterprise of washing clean. - It did so briefly for three years. Since then we've got dirty and the game is who gets in the first spit.
The Frenchman is anxious because Jean-Baptiste is shivering. Jean-Baptiste blames it on the humidity. They have now arrived in Amsterdam but Jean-Baptiste asks him to see him home - he hasn't finished and must go on.
It is simply going on which is the most difficult thing. Jean-Baptiste asks his friend why he thinks Christ was crucified - There are always a lot of reasons for a murder but besides those explained for 2,000 years there was one big reason - Jesus knew he wasn't completely innocent.
Page 62 - La vraie raison est qu'il savait, lui, qu'il n'était pas tout à fait innocent.
He was the reason why the innocents were massacred while he was taken to a safe place by his parents. Was the sadness and melancholy of Christ that of a man who heard the wails of the mothers weeping for their slaughtered children, while he lived.
Confronted with this, it became too difficult for Jesus to go on. He went to the cross when he expected support. Support didn't come. He made his complaint to God, and to cap everything two apostles censored his complaint: "Why hast thou forsaken me?"
But censorship merely increases the publicity. Jean-Baptiste enjoys this ambiguity in the nature of things.
Page 63 - Ainsi, le censeur crie ce qu'il proscrit. L'ordre du monde aussi est ambigu.
Jean-Baptiste, sympathises with Christ because he too reached a stage when he did not know how he could go on.
Page 63 ; Il n’empêche que le censuré, lui, n’a pu continuer.  Et je sais, cher, ce dont je parle.  Il fut un temps où j’ignorais, à chaque minute, comment je pourrais atteindre la suivante.
But Jesus was not superhuman, he cried out his death sufferings and that is why Jean-Baptiste loves him - The misfortune is that he has left us to our own devices to carry on, even though we are in the Little Ease dungeon.
People tried of course to use his death, saying that the cross washed clean the sins of the world. But now too many people are scrambling to get on the cross, even though they trampled Christ. Now they have placed their God in the Judges box.
Page 64 - Ils l'ont juché sur un tribunal, au secret du leur cœur, et ils cognent, ils jugent surtout, ils jugent en son nom.
Jesus was forgiving to the woman taken in adultery - but Christians now say "In the name of the Lord, here's what you've been asking for." Jesus never asked for the title of Lord, only to be loved. Of course some do love him even some Christians but they are few.
Jesus had foreseen this - that what he stood for would be betrayed and with a sense of humour had chosen the man who denied him, Peter, as the man on whom his church would be built. - Jean-Baptiste regards this as the height of irony.
Christ said this betrayal would happen. Then he left, leaving his followers to judge and condemn with words of mercy in their mouths.
Page 64 - Il l'avait dit en effet, il connaissait bien la question. Et puis il est parti pour toujours, les laissant juger et condamner, le pardon à la bouche et la sentence au cœur.

We can't say pity doesn't exist - people never stop talking of it. The judges of all races, of all religions and anti-religions swarm over dead innocence.
We have to do the same. He, Jean-Baptiste, spares nothing and his friend does not think any less of him for it. - From then we are all judges and all guilty.
Page 64- Dès lors, puisque nous sommes tous juges, nous sommes tous coupables les uns devant les autres, tous christs à notre vilaine manière, un à un crucifiés, et toujours sans savoir.
Or they would be if he Clamence had not found the way out - Jean-Baptiste stops because they have reached his house.           
In solitude one takes oneself easily for a prophet and that is the role he plays in Amsterdam.
Page 65 - Dans la solitude, la fatigue aidant, que voulez-vous, on se prend volontiers pour un prophète. Après tout, c'est bien là ce que je suis, refugié dans un désert de pierres, de brumes et d'eaux pourries, prophète vide pour temps médiocres.
He is a prophet full of fever and alcohol, covering men with curses, men who have no law and cannot stand judgment.
The problem is that we are judged without a law. There is no fear when we are in an order which we respect and have a law we trust, but when there is no law, judgment is arbitrary and the judges are let loose without restraint.
They scramble to find a law before the earth is empty. He, Jean-Baptiste, has succeeded and is the prophet.
Page 65 - Les prophètes et les guérisseurs se multiplient, ils se dépêchent pour arriver avec une bonne loi, ou une organisation impeccable, avant que la terre ne soit déserte. Heureusement, je suis arrivé moi ! Je suis la fin et le commencement, j'annonce la loi. Bref, je suis juge-pénitent.
Jean-Baptiste promises to tell him tomorrow what this profession consists of. - The Frenchman says he is leaving for Paris in two days time.
Jean-Baptiste reminisces about Paris at twilight with husbands pretending to hasten home to weary wives and rigorous homes - the lonely creature in the big city.
The next day when the Frenchman goes to Jean-Baptiste’s house, he finds him ill in bed. Jean-Baptiste apologises saying that he is used to these attacks of fever which is malaria he thinks, contracted in the days when he was Pope.
The other man apparently laughs and Jean-Baptiste says he is only half joking. He admits that it is difficult to disentangle the true from the false in what he says. He claims that both the truth and the false­hood tend towards the same end and falsehood is often more illuminating.
Take it as he wishes Jean-Baptiste maintains he was elected Pope in a prison camp.
He invites the Frenchman to take a seat. Noticing him looking at the bare room - without furniture and books: Page 66: Sans livres non plus, j’ai cessé de lire depuis longtemps.
He says previously his house was filled with books half read – a disgusting waste of things of quality. Besides, his taste is now only for confessions and he finds writers of so-called confessions are in fact only covering up - he has thrown out these vain objects to make a room as neat and polished as a coffin.
Page 66 - Alors, j'ai coupé court. Plus de livres, plus de vains objets non plus, le strict nécessaire, net et verni comme un cercueil.
The Frenchman presses him about his adventures as Pope. Jean-Baptiste describes them as very ordinary. Feeling the fever subsiding he begins to tell of them.
He was in North Africa at the time of Rommel's North African campaign - not as a soldier - he had dodged the war in Europe. By the time he had joined the French army it was in full retreat.
He was tempted to join the Resistance. He had recognised that he was a patriot when he felt furious to see a stray dog following a German soldier -at the thought of it becoming a regimental mascot.  However, having gone to the Southern zone to join the Resistance, he had felt it futile and had no stomach for hiding in cellars.
Page 68 - J'admirais ceux qui se livraient  à cet héroïsme des profondeurs, mais ne pouvais les imiter.
He slipped into N. Africa, intending vaguely to get to London (Headquarters of the free French), but in North Africa he found himself equally sympathetic to the Pro-Vichy and Pro-Free French parties and so he abstained.
Finally he reached Tunisia, where a girl friend in the cinema industry found him work. He was unaware that she was engaged in the Resistance until the Germans arrested them both on the day the Allies invaded North Africa. He does not know what became of the girl but he was interned near Tripoli - just as a security measure in his case.
Every child of this half century knows everything about concentration camps so there is no need for a full description. Jean-Baptiste does not complain of bad treatment - he mentions thirst and destitution and leaves the hearer to add the rest - heat - sun - flies - sand - absence of water.
With him was a young Frenchman who was a believer. A kind of Duguesclin. Having fought for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, this man had found himself in the concentration camps of the Catholic General Franco. The realisation that Franco had the blessing of the Catholic Church had thrown him into a state of profound sorrow.
But with the effect of the sun and his reflections, one day he renewed his attack on the Pope, whom he called the Man in Rome - Le Romain - (N.B. the man's mind had gone).,
Page 69. I1 nous regardait d'un air égaré, avec sa barbe de plusieurs jours. Son torse nu était couvert de sueur, ses mains pianotaient sur le clavier visible des côtes.
He declared what was needed was a new Pope chosen from the unfortunates, instead of one on a throne. - Having calmed down, he said they should choose a new Pope from among themselves, a man to whom they would swear obedience - a man who would swear to keep alive in himself and in the rest the community of their sufferings. He asked for a volunteer - the one who had the most weaknesses.
Jean-Baptiste raised his hand as a joke and was accepted. His volunteering thus showed the greatest virtue. The other ten went along with the game, but were also somewhat impressed as was Jean-Baptiste
Page 69 - La vérité est que Duguesclin nous avait impressionnés. Moi-­même, il me semble bien que je ne riais pas tout à fait. Je trouvai d'abord que mon petit prophète avait raison et puis le soleil, les travaux épuisants, la bataille pour l'eau, bref, nous n'étions pas dans notre assiette.
Jean-Baptiste played the role of Pope for several weeks. He is asked what this consisted of. Jean-Baptiste, explains they formed a kind of group of which he was the head - there were other groups in the camp - political and religious. The others obeyed him and he administered to the Frenchman in his suffering.
He learned it was not easy to be Pope, which he recalled yesterday after having denounced our brothers, the judges.
His main duty was water allocation - e.g. according to individual needs. This was a great responsibility, which he felt most poignantly on the day when he decided to drink himself the ration of a dying Frenchman - not Duguesclin , who was already dead and whom he loved too much to do that.
He drank the water ration on the assumption that the others needed him. From such vanity are born churches and empires under the burning sun of death.
Jean-Baptiste wishes to amend what he said yesterday. Now he believes we must forgive the Pope for two reasons:
(1) Because he needs forgiveness more than anyone.
(2) Forgiving him is the only way to be superior to him.
Jean-Baptiste anxiously checks that the Frenchman has carefully locked the door. He himself checks constantly - Not out of fear of losing his possessions. Previously although he had not been big hearted enough to share his wealth, he had been careless, leaving his property open for possible burglars.
Page 70  Ne m’arrivait-il pas, dans mes discours mondains, de m’écrier avec conviction ; « La propriété, messieurs, c’est le meurtre ! ».  N’ayant pas le cœur assez grand pour partager mes richesses avec un pauvre bien méritant, je les laissais à la disposition des voleurs éventuels, espérant ainsi corriger l’injustice par le hasard.
Now, owning nothing - his concern is to keep his little world closed in, from visitors, a world where he is King, Pope and Judge.
Page 71 - Je ne m'inquiète donc pas de ma sécurité, mais de moi-même et de ma présence d'esprit. Je tiens aussi à condamner la porte du petit univers bien clos dont je suis le roi, le pape et le juge.
Jean-Baptiste shows hidden in a cupboard a masterpiece, a panel from a Van Eyck alter piece. The mystic lamb.           The panel is of the honest judges, which was stolen in 1934.  It was given to the bouncer at the Mexico City for a bottle of drink by a regular.
Jean-Baptiste told the patron to hang it over the bar, where it remained while the international police looked for it.
Page 71 - Pendant qu'on les recherchait dans le monde entier, nos juges dévots ont trôné à Mexico-City, au-dessus des ivrognes et dos souteneurs.
(N.B. the enjoyment of the absurd.)
Jean-Baptiste asked the barman if he could keep it. The latter was unwilling until Jean-Baptiste explained what the picture was, and then he took fright. Jean-Baptiste had had it ever since.
The Frenchman asked why he had not returned the panel. Jean-Baptiste replied
(1) Because it does not belong to him but to the barman.
(2) Because the panel has been replaced by a copy and no-one knows the difference.
(3) Because by this, he dominates. The world admires false judges and he alone knows the truth.
(4) Because he runs the risk of being thrown in jail by keeping it, an idea which appeals to him.
(5) Because the judges on the panel are on the way to see the lamb but now there is no lamb - no innocence.
(6) Because this is the correct way. Justice must be cut off from innocence - this on the cross - that in the cupboard. And thus after so many false starts, he is able to carry on the profession of judge-penitent.
Jean-Baptiste has to get up to breathe more easily. He feels very tired.
He mainly exercises his profession in the Mexico City. But this is a profession which one does not merely exercise - one breathes it.
Jean-Baptiste says his talk of the last five days has not been just for fun.
Page 72 ; Ne croyez pas en effet que, pendant cinq jours, je vous aie fait de si longs discours pour le seul plaisir.
His speech is now directed to one aim to make the laughter cease and to avoid judgment.
Page 72 - Maintenant mon discours ost orienté. Il est orienté par l'idée, évidemment, de faire taire les rires, d'éviter personnellement le jugement, bien qu'il n’y ait, en apparence, aucune issue.
In order to dilute the judgment which one brings to bear on oneself, one spreads the condemnation onto everyone else. - His principle is: No excuses for anyone
No good intentions
No praiseworthy errors.
No accidental slips
No attenuating circumstances
Page 72 Pas d’excuses, jamais, pour personne, voilà mon principe, au départ.  Je nie la bonne intention, l’erreur estimable, le faux pas, la circonstance atténuante.  Chez moi on ne bénit pas, on ne distribue pas d’absolution.  On fait l’addition, simplement, et puis : « Ca fait tant ».
You simply add up the account and stake the verdict bleakly: You are a pervert - a satyr - a liar - a homosexual - an artist etc.
In philosophy and politics he denies man’s innocence and thus is an enlightened advocate of his slavery. Without this there is no final solution.
Previously he had been glib in the use of the word liberty, putting it to the use of his power and also his sensual desires –
He stops himself - To be fair to himself he had defended liberty 2 or 3 times - But he had not understood the nature of liberty - It is not a sugared dainty or a reward - It is a chore, lonely and exhausting. It leaves one responsible to face the judgment of oneself and of others, totally alone. When one is sick, in difficulties or loves no one, liberty is a burden which is too heavy to bear. -
Page 73 - Au bout de toute liberté, il y a une sentence; voila pourquoi la  liberté est trop lourde à porter, surtout lorsqu'on souffre de fièvre, ou qu'on a de la peine, ou qu'on n'aime personne.

The weight of days is terrible for the free man, alone without a God or a master. One has to give up one's freedom and choose a master, God no longer being fashionable.

In fact our very serious moralists might as well be Christians. Their approach is the same. It's only because it wouldn't do their reputation any good that they do not convert to Christianity - in fact, Jean Baptiste has a friend who claims that 80 per cent of our writers are secretly Christians. Feeling this overpowering need to judge, they make up with their oppressive code of ethics. So much so, that they even surpass the Christians. Jean Baptiste knows a man who was an atheist when he as an irreproachable husband, but on becoming an adulterer, was converted to Christianity.
(i.e. as it offered devices to live with your conscience).

Jean Baptiste says, therefore, however much they may pretend, they are all Christians. But there is now no God the father, now no rule and so they had to make up for it with their own terrible rules: Page 74 - Mais justement, il n'y a plus de père, plus de règle! On est libre, alors il faut se débrouiller et comme ils ne veulent surtout pas de la liberté, ni de ses sentences, ils prient qu'on leur donne sur les doigts, ils inventent de terribles règles, ils courent construire des bûchers pour remplacer les églises.

Imposing their new Inquisition they believe only in sin not in grace.         `

Page 74 - La grâce, voilà ce qu'ils veulent, le oui, l'abandon, le bonheur d'être et qui sait, car ils sont sentimentaux aussi, les fiançailles, la jeune fille fraiche, 1'homme droit, la musique.

They think about grace however and wish approval, freedom from restraint, the happiness of being, courtship, the fresh girl, the upright man, music.
He himself .dreamed of complete love of heart and body, night and day - of an endless embrace for 5 years and then death. But we cannot have this and we need to be ruled by a rigid law. Instead of this free complete love we have marriage - brutal, with force and the whip.

In the manner of children, the essential thing we demand is that everything should be simple and laid down clearly.

Page 75 -.L'essentiel est.que tout devienne simple, comme pour l’enfant que chaque acte soit commandé, que le bien et le mal soient désignés de façon arbitraire, donc évidente.

And it is this order of things that he Jean Baptiste is going along with, although he is not in the least a Christian - even though he had affection for the first Christian i.e, Christ.

On the bridges of Paris he had learnt that he could not live with liberty and that he needed a law. The answer was to give up one's freedom and to obey in a state of repentance some bigger rogue than oneself.       
Mais sur les ponts de Paris, j’ai appris moi aussi que j’avais peur de la liberté.  Vive donc le maître, quel qu’il soit, pour remplacer la loi du ciel.
One can avoid solitude thus - except solitude in death - because when everyone is guilty, we are all united in humiliation.
Page 75 - Les autres ont leur compte aussi et en même temps que nous, voilà l’important. Tous réunis, enfin, mais à genoux, et la tête courbée.
Now he lives despised, hunted down, restricted - and in his church at the Mexico City bar he invites the others to share his servitude, which he depicts as real freedom.
Méprisé, traqué, contraint, je puis alors donner ma pleine mesure, jouir de ce que je suis, être naturel enfin.
But this universal slavery will not happen in the near future. So Jean Baptiste had to seek a temporary solution, in order to take the weight of judgment off his own shoulders and share it with the others.
He knew that if he went into the pulpit and denounced others, the condemnation would finally fly back into his own face. Therefore, he reversed the process and condemned himself first before condemning others.
Page 76 - Puisque tout juge finit un jour en pénitent, il fallait prendre la route en sens inverse et faire métier de pénitent pour pouvoir finir en juge.
He closed down his chambers in Paris, to look for somewhere else to carry on his practice. He finished up in Amsterdam by chance, convenience, irony and a certain need for mortification: in this capital of mists. Page 76
……j’ai cheché à m’établir dans quelque endroit où la pratique ne me manquerait pas.  Il y en a beaucoup dans le monde, mais le hasard, la commodité, l’ironie, et la nécessité d’une certaine mortification m’ont fait choisir une capitale d’eaux et de brumes.
People from all over the world make their way to these ill-famed bars. He finds he can work best on the middle class men who make their way to these shady haunts. - His technique as a juge pénitent is as follows:­

He makes a personal confession - subtle - full of nuances and digressions:
Page 77 – je navigue souplement, je multiplie les nuances, les digressions aussi… mingling his own experience with that of others and thus inducing the listener to go one better. 
In the course of his personal confession he is making a joint portrait not of himself alone but of his listener as well, of everyone and no-one in particular: - Page 77 Je prends les traits communs, les expériences que nous avons ensemble souffertes, les faiblesses que nous partageons, le bon ton, 1'homme du jour enfin, tel qu'il sévit en moi et chez les autres. Avec cela, je fabrique un portrait qui est celui de tous et de personne.
Finally he hands the portrait to his listener - saying alas this is how I am - but the portrait-is in fact a mirror of the other man.
Page 77 ; Mais du même coup, le portrait que je tends à me contemporains devient un miroir.
He has moved imperceptibly from saying "I" in his story to saying "We.” They are both in the same boat but at the same time he has gained a superiority in two ways:
(1) He alone of the two knows what is being done.
(2) By accusing himself, he has given himself the right to judge the other man and to provoke him to judge himself - which affords him relief.

 Page 77 - Plus je m'accuse et plus j'ai le droit de vous juger. Mieux, je vous provoque à vous juger vous-même, ce qui me soulage d'autant.
He invites the other man to begin his confession now. The French­man gives a laugh - but Jean Baptiste insists that he will do one day. He had recognised that the other man would be more difficult than most, as he is more intelligent than sentimental. But in the end they all come round. The Frenchman will either come back to Amsterdam or write to him.
When he comes back he will find Jean Baptiste unchanged, because he is happy as he is. He has found a way of accepting duplicity, instead of getting upset about it.
Page 78 - J'ai accepté la duplicité au lieu de m'en désoler.
He corrects what he said earlier when he had said the main thing was to avoid judgement. The main thing is to be able to allow oneself everything - and this he can do without suffering from his conscience.
He can continue to love himself and to use others, but by the technique of confession, he can do so with a lighter conscience, enjoying his own nature and a charming repentance.
Page 78 - Je me permets tout, à nouveau, et sans rire, cette fois. Je n'ai pas changé de vie, je continue de m’aimer et de me servir des autres. Seulement, la confession de mes fautes me permet de recommencer plus légèrement et de jouir deux fois, de ma nature d'abord, et ensuite d'un charmant repentir.
With this formula, he can allow himself everything - women - pride - annoyance -resentment - he can even enjoy his fever. He now reigns - and for ever. He is on a summit where he can judge the world. If he hears a faint laugh in the distance, he unloads his strictures on all people and creation and he perks up again. 
In spite of his fever, he must go out to carry on his profession to judge the strangers who will join him in the bar. To feel taller as they crumble and are struck with remorse. He is thus like God the father, giving out definitive certificates of bad character. - He pities without absolving and the piteous victims adore him.
Page 79 - ….je regarde monter vers moi, sortant des brumes  et de l’eau, la multitude du jugement dernier.  Ila s’élèvent lentement, je vois arriver déjà le premier d’entre eux.  Sur sa face égarée, à moitié cachée par une main, je lis la tristesse de la condition commune, et le désespoir de ne pouvoir y échapper.  Eh moi, je plains sans absoudre, je comprends sans pardonner et surtout, ah, je sens enfin que l'on m'adore.
Jean Baptiste. is getting excited. He must get up. He must be higher than the man he is speaking to. He must be out in the night, or especially in the dawn which is when the fall - la chute takes place. Then he can soar above the world - drunk with bad words. He is so happy he could die.
He has to lie down again. He admits he has doubts sometimes but what choice had he, knowing he had to change. How can you change and become someone else? It is impossible. You would have to become no­-one, forget yourself for someone else but how? He begs the Frenchman to be indulgent with him - like the beggar on the terrace - he is not a bad man he has simply lost the light.
The light we have lost is the light of blessed innocence, which allows a man to forgive himself.
Page 80 - Oui, nous avons perdu la lumière, les matins, la sainte innocence de celui qui se pardonne à lui-même.

(This is perhaps the key sentence of the book. La Chute is the story of this fall from the state of Innocence - the state in which a man can live in harmony with himself and his failings. The fall for J.B. began when his faith in himself began to fall apart and he was forced to realise that he had stood by, while a young woman drowned).

Jean Baptiste. is excited to see the snow falling. But he must go out. The other man is anxious for him but he says this emotion and delirium is always under control.
He says he always hopes that the person he is confessing to will turn out to be a policeman who will arrest him for the theft of the masterpiece: « Juges Intègres ».   He imagines himself guillotined and his head raised over the crowd –
…. On me décapiterait par exemple, et je n’aurais plus peur de mourir, je serais sauvé

He would be dominant to the end, as he ends his career as a false prophet.      
Page 81: Tout serait consommé, j’aurais achevé, ni vu ni connu, ma carrière de faux prophète qui crie dans le désert et refuse d’en sortir
The other man says he too is a barrister from Paris. Jean Baptiste, says he thought they were the same breed. He invites him to tell him how he too failed to save the girl who jumped into the Seine. He invites him to pronounce the words of regret which he, Jean Baptiste repeats every night, asking for the girl to give him a second chance to save her.
But if she did give them this chance, they'd have to go through with it and the water is cold. Rest assured, it will always be too late.
Page 81 - Brr...: l'eau est si froide; Mais rassurons-nous: Il est trop tard, maintenant il sera toujours trop tard. Heureusement !

(The waters of innocence and freedom are perhaps a responsibility which we are not able to stand ).