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Albert Camus

Portrait from New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, 1957
Born 7 November 1913(1913-11-07)
Dréan, El Taref, French Algeria
Died 4 January 1960 (aged 46)
Villeblevin, Yonne, Bourgogne, France
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Absurdism,
Nobel Prize in Literature
1957
Main interests Ethics, Humanity, Justice, Love, Politics
Notable ideas "The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth"
"Always go too far, because that's where you'll find the truth."
"I rebel; therefore we exist."

Albert Camus Albert Camus.ogg albɛʁ kamy (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French Algerian author, philosopher, and journalist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was a key philosopher of the 20th-century and his most famous work is the novel L'Étranger (The Stranger).

In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was a group opposed to some tendencies of the surrealistic movement of André Breton. Camus was the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature - after Rudyard Kipling - when he became the first African-born writer to receive the award.[1] He is the shortest-lived of any literature laureate to date, having died in an automobile accident just over two years after receiving the award.

He is often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy that he was associated with during his own lifetime, but Camus himself rejected this particular label.[2] In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: "No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked..."[3]

Specifically, his views contributed to the rise of the more current philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay The Rebel that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom.

Contents

Early years

Albert Camus was born on 7 November 1913 in Dréan (then known as Mondovi) in French Algeria to a Pied-Noir settler family.[4] His mother was of Spanish extraction and was half-deaf.[5] Pied-Noir was a term used to refer to colonists of French Algeria until Algerian independence in 1962. His father Lucien, a poor agricultural worker, died in the Battle of the Marne in 1914 during World War I, while serving as a member of the Zouave infantry regiment. Camus lived in poor conditions during his childhood in the Belcourt section of Algiers. In 1923, he was accepted into the lycée and eventually to the University of Algiers. However, he contracted tuberculosis in 1930, which put an end to his football activities (he had been a goalkeeper for the university team) and forced him to make his studies a part-time pursuit. He took odd jobs including private tutor, car parts clerk and work for the Meteorological Institute. He completed his licence de philosophie (BA) in 1935; in May 1936, he successfully presented his thesis on Plotinus, Néo-Platonisme et Pensée Chrétienne, for his diplôme d'études supérieures (roughly equivalent to an M.A. thesis).

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Camus joined the French Communist Party in the Spring of 1935 seeing it as a way to "fight inequalities between Europeans and 'natives' in Algeria." He did not suggest he was a Marxist or that he had read Das Kapital, but did write that "[w]e might see communism as a springboard and asceticism that prepares the ground for more spiritual activities".[6] In 1936, the independence-minded Algerian Communist Party (PCA) was founded. Camus joined the activities of the Algerian People's Party (Le Parti du Peuple Algérien), which got him into trouble with his Communist party comrades. As a result, he was denounced as a Trotskyite and expelled from the party in 1937. Camus went on to be associated with the French anarchist movement.

The anarchist Andre Prudhommeaux first introduced him at a meeting in 1948 of the Cercle des Etudiants Anarchistes (Anarchist Student Circle) as a sympathiser who was familiar with anarchist thought. Camus went on to write for anarchist publications such as Le Libertaire, La révolution Proletarienne and Solidaridad Obrera (the organ of the anarcho-syndicalist CNT). Camus also stood with the anarchists when they expressed support for the uprising of 1953 in East Germany. He again stood with the anarchists in 1956, first with the workers’ uprising in Poznan, Poland, and then later in the year with the Hungarian Revolution.

In 1934, he married Simone Hie, a morphine addict, but the marriage ended as a consequence of infidelities on both sides. In 1935, he founded Théâtre du Travail — "Worker's Theatre" — (renamed Théâtre de l'Equipe ("Team's Theatre") in 1937), which survived until 1939. From 1937 to 1939 he wrote for a socialist paper, Alger-Républicain, and his work included an account of the peasants who lived in Kabylie in poor conditions, which apparently cost him his job. From 1939 to 1940, he briefly wrote for a similar paper, Soir-Republicain. He was rejected by the French army because of his tuberculosis.

In 1940, Camus married Francine Faure, a pianist and mathematician. Although he loved Francine, he had argued passionately against the institution of marriage, dismissing it as unnatural. Even after Francine gave birth to twins, Catherine and Jean, on 5 September 1945, he continued to joke wearily to friends that he was not cut out for marriage. Camus conducted numerous affairs, particularly an irregular and eventually public affair with the Spanish-born actress Maria Casares. In the same year, Camus began to work for Paris-Soir magazine. In the first stage of World War II, the so-called Phony War stage, Camus was a pacifist. However, he was in Paris to witness how the Wehrmacht took over. On 15 December 1941, Camus witnessed the execution of Gabriel Péri, an event that Camus later said crystallized his revolt against the Germans. Afterwards he moved to Bordeaux alongside the rest of the staff of Paris-Soir. In the same year he finished his first books, The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus. He returned briefly to Oran, Algeria in 1942.

Literary career

During the war Camus joined the French Resistance cell Combat, which published an underground newspaper of the same name. This group worked against the Nazis, and in it Camus assumed the nom de guerre "Beauchard". Camus became the paper's editor in 1943, and when the Allies liberated Paris Camus reported on the last of the fighting. He was one of the few French editors to publicly express opposition to the use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima soon after the event on 8 August 1945. He eventually resigned from Combat in 1947, when it became a commercial paper. It was then that he became acquainted with Jean-Paul Sartre.

After the war, Camus began frequenting the Café de Flore on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris with Sartre and others. He also toured the United States to lecture about French thinking. Although he leaned left, politically, his strong criticisms of Communist doctrine did not win him any friends in the Communist parties and eventually also alienated Sartre.

In 1949 his tuberculosis returned and he lived in seclusion for two years. In 1951 he published The Rebel, a philosophical analysis of rebellion and revolution which made clear his rejection of communism. The book upset many of his colleagues and contemporaries in France and led to the final split with Sartre. The dour reception depressed him and he began instead to translate plays.

Camus's first significant contribution to philosophy was his idea of the absurd, the result of our desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither, which he explained in The Myth of Sisyphus and incorporated into many of his other works, such as The Stranger and The Plague. Despite the split from his "study partner", Sartre, some still argue that Camus falls into the existentialist camp. However, he rejected that label himself in his essay Enigma and elsewhere (see: The Lyrical and Critical Essays of Albert Camus). The current confusion may still arise, as many recent applications of existentialism have much in common with many of Camus's practical ideas (see: Resistance, Rebellion, and Death). However, the personal understanding he had of the world (e.g. "a benign indifference", in The Stranger), and every vision he had for its progress (e.g. vanquishing the "adolescent furies" of history and society, in The Rebel) undoubtedly set him apart.

In the 1950s Camus devoted his efforts to human rights. In 1952 he resigned from his work for UNESCO when the UN accepted Spain as a member under the leadership of General Franco. In 1953 he criticized Soviet methods to crush a workers' strike in East Berlin. In 1956 he protested against similar methods in Poland (protests in Poznań) and the Soviet repression of the Hungarian revolution in October.

The monument to Camus built in the small town of Villeblevin, France where he died in an automobile accident on 4 January 1960

He maintained his pacifism and resistance to capital punishment anywhere in the world. One of his most significant contributions to the movement against capital punishment was an essay collaboration with Arthur Koestler, the writer, intellectual and founder of the League Against Capital Punishment.

The bronze plaque on the monument to Camus, built in the small town of Villeblevin, France. The plaque reads: "From the Yonne area's local council, in tribute to the writer Albert Camus who was watched over in the Villeblevin town hall in the night of 4 January – 5 January 1960."

When the Algerian War began in 1954 it presented a moral dilemma for Camus. He identified with pied-noirs, and defended the French government on the grounds that the revolt in Algeria was really an integral part of the 'new Arab imperialism' led by Egypt and an 'anti-Western' offensive orchestrated by Russia to 'encircle Europe' and 'isolate the United States'.[7] Although favouring greater Algerian autonomy or even federation, though not full-scale independence, he believed that the pied-noirs and Arabs could co-exist. During the war he advocated civil truce that would spare the civilians, which was rejected by both sides who regarded it as foolish. Behind the scenes, he began to work for imprisoned Algerians who faced the death penalty.

From 1955 to 1956 Camus wrote for L'Express. In 1957 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times", not for his novel The Fall, published the previous year, but for his writings against capital punishment in the essay Réflexions sur la Guillotine. When he spoke to students at the University of Stockholm, he defended his apparent inactivity in the Algerian question and stated that he was worried about what might happen to his mother, who still lived in Algeria. This led to further ostracism by French left-wing intellectuals.

Revolutionary Union Movement and the European Union

As he wrote in L'Homme révolté (in the chapter about "The Thought on Midday") he was a follower of the ancient Greek 'Solar Tradition' (la pensée solaire). So, not only was he the leader of the French resistance movement "Combat," but he set up in 1947-8 the Revolutionary Union Movement (Groupes de liaison internationale - GLI)[6] which was formed in 1949 and can be described as a trade union movement in the context of revolutionary syndicalism (Syndicalisme révolutionnaire) - according to Olivier Todd, in the biography, 'Albert Camus, une vie', it was a group opposed to some tendencies of the surrealistic movement of André Breton. For more, see the book : Alfred Rosmer et le mouvement révolutionnaire internationale by Christian Gras).

His colleagues were Nicolas Lazarévitch, Louis Mercier, Roger Lapeyre, Paul Chauvet, Auguste Largentier, Jean de Boë (see the article: "Nicolas Lazarévitch, Itinéraire d'un syndicaliste révolutionnaire" by Sylvain Boulouque in the review Communisme, n° 61, 2000). His main aim was to express the positive side of surrealism and existentialism, rejecting the negativity and the nihilism of André Breton.

From 1943, Albert Camus had correspondence with Altiero Spinelli who founded the European Federalist Movement in Milan—see Ventotene Manifesto and the book "Unire l'Europa, superare gli stati", Altiero Spinelli nel Partito d'Azione del Nord Italia e in Francia dal 1944 al 1945-annexed a letter by Altiero Spinelli to Albert Camus.

In 1944 Camus founded the "French Committee for the European Federation" (Comité Français pour la Féderation Européene -CFFE) declaring that Europe "can only evolve along the path of economic progress, democracy and peace if the nation states become a federation".

From 22–25 March 1945, the first conference of the European Federalist Movement was organised in Paris with the participation of Albert Camus, George Orwell, Emmanuel Mounier, Lewis Mumford, André Philip, Daniel Mayer, François Bondy and Altiero Spinelli (see the book "The Biography of Europe" by Pan Drakopoulos). This specific branch of the European Federalist Movement disintegrated in 1957 after the domination of Winston Churchill's ideas about the European integration.

Orwell

Three essays by Dr. Miho Takashima in the International Journal of Humanities explore the relation between the work of the French writer Albert Camus and the English writer George Orwell: "Revolt and Equilibrium: A Comparative Study of Nineteen Eighty-Four and L'Homme Révolté, the Views and Struggles of Orwell and Camus", "Art and Representation: A Comparative Study of George Orwell and Albert Camus on their Literary Works", and "George Orwell and Albert Camus: A Comparative Study – Their Views and Dilemmas in the Politics of the 1930s and 40s".

Takashima argues that Orwell — perhaps intentionally, in order to warn the intellectual elite — compromised with "Big Brother", while Camus confronted with The Plague. This is observed not only in the comparison between Nineteen Eighty-Four and The Rebel but, especially, in Camus' play The State of Siege.[citation needed] This theatrical play was written together with the novel The Plague and the essay The Rebel. It is the work which — according to Camus himself[citation needed] — represents him best and is a response to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. The hero, Diego, opposes the totalitarian dictator named Plague, and dies in order to set a Spanish town free from the Inquisition.

The State of Siege is a work against totalitarianism, written in the same epoch when Camus' contemporary, George Orwell, wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. The play includes an allegorical reference to the end of Orwell's novel.

The original title of The State of Siege was The Holy Inquisition in Cadix.[citation needed] In the French edition of the book, Camus has included an essay under the title "Why Spain?". In this polemical text, he answers his Catholic friend Gabriel Marcel who criticized him for setting the plot in Spain. Here Camus expresses his opposition to the totalitarian regimes of the West, and to the behavior of the Church in Spain which seemed to turn a blind eye to Franco's firing squads. The most important phrase of this essay is "Why Guernica, Gabriel Marcel?".

Death

Camus died on 4 January 1960 at the age of 46 in a car accident near Sens, in a place named "Le Grand Fossard" in the small town of Villeblevin. In his coat pocket lay an unused train ticket. He had planned to travel by train, with his wife and children, but at the last minute accepted his publisher's proposal to travel with him.[8]

Albert Camus' gravestone

The driver of the Facel Vega car, Michel Gallimard — his publisher and close friend — was also killed in the accident.[9] Camus was buried in the Lourmarin Cemetery, Lourmarin, Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France.

He was survived by his twin children, Catherine and Jean, who hold the copyrights to his work.

Two of Camus's works were published posthumously. The first, entitled A Happy Death, published in 1970, featured a character named Patrice Mersault, comparable to The Stranger's Meursault, but there is some debate as to the relationship between the two stories. The second posthumous publication was an unfinished novel, The First Man, that Camus was writing before he died. The novel was an autobiographical work about his childhood in Algeria and was published in 1995.

Summary of Absurdism

Many writers have written on the Absurd, each with his or her own interpretation of what the Absurd actually is and their own ideas on the importance of the Absurd. For example, Sartre recognizes the absurdity of individual experience, while Kierkegaard explains that the absurdity of certain religious truths prevent us from reaching God rationally. Camus was not the originator of Absurdism and regretted the continued reference to him as a philosopher of the absurd. He shows less and less interest in the Absurd shortly after publishing Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus). To distinguish Camus' ideas of the Absurd from those of other philosophers, people sometimes refer to the Paradox of the Absurd, when referring to Camus' Absurd.

His early thoughts on the Absurd appeared in his first collection of essays, L'Envers et l'endroit (The Two Sides Of The Coin) in 1937. Absurd themes appeared with more sophistication in his second collection of essays, Noces (Nuptials), in 1938. In these essays Camus does not offer a philosophical account of the Absurd, or even a definition; rather he reflects on the experience of the Absurd. In 1942 he published the story of a man living an Absurd life as L'Étranger (The Stranger), and in the same year released Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), a literary essay on the Absurd. He had also written a play about a Roman Emperor, Caligula, pursuing an Absurd logic. However, the play was not performed until 1945. The turning point in Camus' attitude to the Absurd occurs in a collection of four letters to an anonymous German friend, written between July 1943 and July 1944. The first was published in the Revue Libre in 1943, the second in the Cahiers de Libération in 1944, and the third in the newspaper Libertés, in 1945. All four letters have been published as Lettres à un ami allemand (Letters to a German Friend) in 1945, and have appeared in the collection Resistance, Rebellion, and Death.

Ideas on the Absurd

In his essays Camus presented the reader with dualisms: happiness and sadness, dark and light, life and death, etc. His aim was to emphasize the fact that happiness is fleeting and that the human condition is one of mortality. He did this not to be morbid, but to reflect a greater appreciation for life and happiness. In Le Mythe, this dualism becomes a paradox: We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavours are meaningless. While we can live with a dualism (I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come), we cannot live with the paradox (I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless). In Le Mythe, Camus was interested in how we experience the Absurd and how we live with it. Our life must have meaning for us to value it. If we accept that life has no meaning and therefore no value, should we kill ourselves?

Meursault, the Absurdist hero of L'Étranger, has killed a man and is scheduled to be executed. Caligula ends up admitting his Absurd logic was wrong and is killed by an assassination he has deliberately brought about. However, while Camus possibly suggests that Caligula's Absurd reasoning is wrong, the play's anti-hero does get the last word, as the author similarly exalts Meursault's final moments.

Camus' understanding of the Absurd promotes public debate; his various offerings entice us to think about the Absurd and offer our own contribution. Concepts such as cooperation, joint effort and solidarity are of key importance to Camus.

Camus made a significant contribution to a viewpoint of the Absurd, and always rejected nihilism as a valid response.

"If nothing had any meaning, you would be right. But there is something that still has a meaning." Second Letter to a German Friend, December 1943.

What still had meaning for Camus is that despite humans being subjects in an indifferent and "absurd" universe in which meaning is challenged by the fact that we all die, meaning can be created, however provisionally and unstably, by our own decisions and interpretations.

Religious beliefs and Absurdism

While writing his thesis on Plotinus and Saint Augustine of Hippo, Camus became very strongly influenced by their works, especially that of St. Augustine. In his work, Confessions (consisting of 13 books), Augustine promotes the idea of a connection between God and the rest of the world. Camus identified with the idea that a personal experience could become a reference point for his philosophical and literary writings. Although he blatantly considered himself an atheist, Camus later came to tout the idea that the absence of God in a person's life can simultaneously be accompanied by a longing for "salvation and meaning that only God can provide". This line of thinking presented an enormous paradox and became a major thread in defining the idea of absurdism in Camus' writings.[10]

Opposition to totalitarianism

Throughout his life, Camus spoke out against and actively opposed totalitarianism in its many forms.[11] Early on, Camus was active within the French Resistance to the German occupation of France during World War II, even directing the famous Resistance journal, Combat. On the French collaboration with Nazi occupiers he wrote:

Now the only moral value is courage, which is useful here for judging the puppets and chatterboxes who pretend to speak in the name of the people [12]

Camus' well-known falling out with Sartre is linked to this opposition to totalitarianism. Camus detected a reflexive totalitarianism in the mass politics espoused by Sartre in the name of radical Marxism. This was apparent in his work L'Homme Révolté (The Rebel) which not only was an assault on the Soviet police state, but also questioned the very nature of mass revolutionary politics. Camus continued to speak out against the atrocities of the Soviet Union, a sentiment captured in his 1957 speech, The Blood of the Hungarians, commemorating the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, an uprising crushed in a bloody assault by the Red Army.

Solidarity

In The Stranger

In The Stranger, Albert Camus characterizes his justification of the absurd through the experiences of a protagonist who simply does not conform to the system. His inherent honesty disturbs the status quo; Meursault's inability to lie cannot seamlessly integrate him within society and in turn threatens the simple fabrics of human mannerisms expected of a structurally ordered society. Consequently, the punishment for his crime is not decided on the basis of murder, but rather for the startling indifference toward his mother's recent death. Even after a conflicting spiritual discussion with a pastor inciting Meursault to consider a possible path towards redemption, the latter still refuses to take upon salvation and symbolizes his ultimatum by embracing the "gentle indifference of the world"; an act which only furthers his solidarity with a society incapable of realizing his seemingly inhumane behavior.

In The Plague

The plague is an undeniable part of life. As posited in The Plague, it is omnipresent, just like death was always an impeding factor in The Stranger. Albert Camus once again questions the meaning of the moral concepts justifying humanity and human suffering within a religious framework. For Camus, the rationale behind Christian doctrine is useless; as mortal beings, we cannot successfully rationalize the impending and inescapable death sentence forced upon every human. The plague, which befalls Oran, is a concrete and tangible facilitator of death. Ultimately, the plague enables people to understand that their individual suffering is meaningless. As the epidemic "evolves" within the seasons, so do the citizens of Oran, who instead of willfully giving up to a disease they have no control over, decide to fight against their impending death, thus unwillingly creating optimism in the midst of hopelessness. This is where Camus channels his thoughts behind the importance of solidarity: although the plague is still primarily an agent of death, it provides the uncanny opportunity for people to realize that individual suffering is absurd. In the midst of complete suffering, the challenging response adopted by the majority of the citizens of Oran demonstrates an inexplicable humanistic connection between distraught and distant characters. Only by making the choice to fight an irreversible epidemic are people able to create the ever-lacking meaning to a life destined for execution the moment of its creation.

Football

Camus was once asked by his friend Charles Poncet which he preferred, football or the theatre. Camus is said to have replied, "Football, without hesitation."[13]

Camus played as goalkeeper for Racing Universitaire Algerois (RUA won both the North African Champions Cup and the North African Cup twice each in the 1930s) junior team from 1928–30.[14] The sense of team spirit, fraternity, and common purpose appealed to Camus enormously.[15] In match reports Camus would often attract positive comment for playing with passion and courage. Any aspirations in football disappeared at age 17, upon contracting tuberculosis—then incurable, Camus was bedridden for long and painful periods.

When Camus was asked in the 1950s by an alumni sports magazine for a few words regarding his time with the RUA, his response included the following:

After many years during which I saw many things, what I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport and learned it in the RUA.[13]

Camus was referring to a sort of simplistic morality he wrote about in his early essays, the principle of sticking up for your friends, of valuing bravery and fair-play. Camus' belief was that political and religious authorities try to confuse us with over-complicated moral systems to make things appear more complex than they really are, potentially to serve their own needs.

Bibliography

Novels

  • The Stranger (L'Étranger, often translated as The Outsider) (1942)
  • The Plague (La Peste) (1947)
  • The Fall (La Chute) (1956)
  • A Happy Death (La Mort heureuse) (written 1936-1938, published posthumously 1971)
  • The First Man (Le premier homme) (incomplete, published posthumously 1995)

Short stories

Non-fiction

  • Betwixt and Between (L'envers et l'endroit, also translated as The Wrong Side and the Right Side) (Collection, 1937)
  • Nuptials (Noces) (1938)
  • The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe) (1942)
  • The Rebel (L'Homme révolté) (1951)
  • Notebooks 1935–1942 (Carnets, mai 1935 — fevrier 1942) (1962)
  • Notebooks 1943–1951 (1965)
  • Notebooks 1951–1959 (2008) Published as "Carnets Tome III : Mars 1951–December 1959" (1989)

Essays

  • Create Dangerously (Essay on Realism and Artistic Creation) (1957)
  • The Ancient Greek Tragedy (Parnassos lecture in Greece) (1956)
  • The Crisis of Man (Lecture at Columbia University) (1946)
  • Why Spain? (Essay for the theatrical play L' Etat de Siege) (1948)
  • Reflections on the Guillotine (Réflexions sur la guillotine) (Extended essay, 1957)
  • Neither Victims Nor Executioners (Combat) (1946)

Plays

Collections

  • Resistance, Rebellion, and Death (1961) – a collection of essays selected by the author.
  • Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970)
  • Youthful Writings (1976)
  • Between Hell and Reason: Essays from the Resistance Newspaper "Combat", 1944–1947 (1991)
  • Camus at "Combat": Writing 1944–1947 (2005)

Cultural influences

Film

Several of Camus' works have been adapted into movies. The Stranger has been adapted into an Italian 1967 movie by Luchino Visconti, and also to a 2001 Turkish adaptation titled Yazgi (Fate) by Zeki Demirkubuz. The Plague was adapted to a 1992 film titled La Peste by Luis Puenzo and set in modern day America.

Music

Quite a few musical artists refer to Camus and his work in their music. The post-punk band The Fall took their name from Camus' novel The Fall. These also include an album by Jeff Martin (Exile and the Kingdom, 2006) and songs by Neil Diamond ("Done Too Soon", 1969), Gentle Giant ("A Cry for Everyone", 1972), The Cure ("Killing an Arab", 1978), Tuxedomoon ("The Stranger", 1979), Digable Planets ("Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)", 1993) The Magnetic Fields ("I Don't Want To Get Over You", 1999), The Manic Street Preachers ("The Masses Against The Classes", 2000), JJ72 ("Algeria", 2000), Suede ("Obsessions", 2002), Streetlight Manifesto ("Here's To Life", 2003), A Perfect Circle ("A Stranger" and "The Outsider", 2003), Angela McCluskey ("Know it All", 2004), Joanna Newsom ("This Side of the Blue", 2004), Tarkio ("Neapolitan Bridesmaid", 2006), The Independence, ("20-Ought-Almost-Talkin' Blues", 2008), Drought ("To the Benign Indifference of the Universe", 2008).

The end of the song "No Future Part Two: The Days After No Future" by indie/punk band Titus Andronicus on their debut album The Airing of Grievances features a reading from Albert Camus's novel The Stranger; this also occurs on the 2008 song "Albert Camus"

Anti-folk singer-songwriter Jeffrey Lewis references Camus, as well as Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg, in a 2005 song, "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror" in the line, "And I'm sure the thing is probably Dylan himself too, stayed up some nights wishing he was as good as Ginsberg or Camus".

References

  1. ^ Lennon, Peter (1997-10-15). Camus and his women. Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1997/oct/15/biography.albertcamus. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  2. ^ Solomon, Robert C. (2001). From Rationalism to Existentialism: The Existentialists and Their Nineteenth Century Backgrounds. Rowman and Littlefield. p. 245. ISBN 074251241X. 
  3. ^ Les Nouvelles litteraires, 15 November 1945
  4. ^ "Albert Camus — Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/91464/Albert-Camus. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  5. ^ Lottman 1979, p.11
  6. ^ a b Todd, O Albert Camus: A Life, p37, 250, Alfred A. Knopf, 1998; Carroll & Graf, 2000.
  7. ^ Actuelles III: Chroniques Algeriennes, 1939–58
  8. ^ "KIAD MA in Fine Art: a student run seminar". Raimes.com. http://www.raimes.com/seminar.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  9. ^ de Gaudemar, Antoine (1994-04-16). 'This one's had a good start born in the middle of a move.'. Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1994/apr/16/fiction.albertcamus. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  10. ^ Influence of Saint Augustine on Camus http://www.infloox.com/influence?id=3d7cfff
  11. ^ "Interview with Catherine Camus". Spikemagazine.com. 1999-02-22. http://www.spikemagazine.com/0397camu.php. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  12. ^ "In Camus' notebooks and letters, as quoted in ''Albert Camus A Life'' By Olivier Todd". 64.233.183.104. http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:becLSqP2AvMJ:query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html%3Fres%3D9806EED9113FF93AA25751C1A961958260%26sec%3D%26spon%3D%26pagewanted%3Dall+Now+the+only+moral+value+is+courage,+which+is+useful+here+for+judging+the+puppets+and+chatterboxes&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  13. ^ a b "Albert Camus and football". Camus-society.com. http://www.camus-society.com/camus-football.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  14. ^ "General : Yan!! Camus". RedHotPawn.com. http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?threadid=2803. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  15. ^ "Ashley Lattal'S Paper: Albert Camus". Users.muohio.edu. http://www.users.muohio.edu/shermalw/honors_2001_fall/honors_papers_2000/lattal.html. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  • Albert Camus: A Biography (1979), by Herbert R. Lottman. University of Michigan

Further reading

  • Camus (1959), by Germaine Brée ISBN 1-122-01570-4
  • Camus (1966), by Adele King ISBN 0-050-01423-4
  • Camus: vida e obra (1970), by Vicente de Paulo Barretto.
  • Albert Camus: A Biography (1997), by Herbert R. Lottman (ISBN 3-927258-06-7)
  • Albert Camus and the Minister (2000), by Howard E. Mumma (ISBN 1-55725-246-7)
  • Albert Camus, The Artist in the Arena (1965), by Emmett Parker (OCLC 342770)
  • Albert Camus, A Study of His Work (1957), by Philip Malcolm Waller Thody (OCLC 342101)
  • Albert Camus: A Life (2000), by Olivier Todd (ISBN 0-7867-0739-9)
  • Albert Camus: Kunst und Moral, by Heiner Wittmann (ISBN 3-631-39525-6)
  • Sartre and Camus in Aesthetics. The Challenge of Freedom.(2009), by Heiner Wittmann, Ed. by Dirk Hoeges. Dialoghi/Dialogues. Literatur und Kultur Italiens und Frankreichs, vol. 13, Frankfurt/M. ISBN 978-3-631-58693-8
  • Ethics and Creativity in the Political thought of Simone Weil and Albert Camus 2004, by Dr. John Randolph LeBlanc (ISBN 978-0-7734-6567-1)
  • The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir (1954) Winner of the 1954 Goncourt Prize; Camus himself states that he is "the hero" of the book in his Notebooks 1951-1959.
  • Camus, A Romance (2009), by Elizabeth Hawes (ISBN 978-0802118899)

External links

    


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

There are people who prefer to look their fate in the eye.
Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day.

Albert Camus (1913-11-071960-01-04) was an AlgerianFrench author and Absurdist philosopher.

Contents

Sourced

In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.
  • Don't let them tell us stories. Don't let them say of the man sentenced to death "He is going to pay his debt to society," but: "They are going to cut off his head." It looks like nothing. But it does make a little difference. And then there are people who prefer to look their fate in the eye.
    • "Entre oui et non" in L'Envers et l'endroit (1937), translated as "Between Yes and No", in World Review magazine (March 1950), also quoted in The Artist and Political Vision (1982) by Benjamin R. Barber and Michael J. Gargas McGrath
  • We have exiled beauty; the Greeks took up arms for her.
    • "Helen's Exile" (1948)
  • We turn our backs on nature; we are ashamed of beauty. Our wretched tragedies have a smell of the office clinging to them, and the blood that trickles from them is the color of printer's ink.
    • "Helen's Exile" (1948)
A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously.
  • Man cannot do without beauty, and this is what our era pretends to want to disregard. It steels itself to attain the absolute and authority; it wants to transfigure the world before having exhausted it, to set it to rights before having understood it. Whatever it may say, our era is deserting this world.
    • "Helen's Exile" (1948)
  • O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.
    • Return to Tipasa (1952)
A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.
  • Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people for twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories. In Europe's isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them. It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices.
    • The Blood of the Hungarians (1957)
  • A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously.
    • As quoted in Albert Camus : The Invincible Summer (1958) by Albert Maquet, p. 86; a remark made about the Marquis de Sade.
  • With rebellion, awareness is born.
    • As quoted in The Estranged God : Modern Man's Search for Belief (1966) by Anthony T. Padovano, p. 109
Knowing that certain nights whose sweetness lingers will keep returning to the earth and sea after we are gone, yes, this helps us to die.
  • A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.
    • "The Failing of Prophecy" in Existentialism Versus Marxism : Conflicting Views on Humanism (1966) by George Edward Novack
  • There is not love of life without despair about life.
    • Preface, Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970)
  • Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful.
    • "Three Interviews" in Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970)
  • Knowing that certain nights whose sweetness lingers will keep returning to the earth and sea after we are gone, yes, this helps us to die.
    • "The Sea Close By" in Lyrical and Critical Essays (1970)
  • Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower.
    • As quoted in Visions from Earth (2004) by James R. Miller, p. 126
  • Nous nous trompons toujours deux fois sur ceux que nous aimons: d'abord à leur avantage, puis à leur désavantage.
    • English: We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love — first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.
    • Albert Camus, quoted in Robertson, Connie (1998). ""Camus, Albert 1913–1960". The Wordsworth Dictionary of Quotations. Wordsworth Editions. pp. page 73. ISBN 185326489X.  

The Stranger (1942)

I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn't.
  • Aujourd'hui maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas.
    • Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure.
      • First sentences of the book; some translations retain the original Maman.
  • I hope the dogs don't bark tonight. I always think it's mine.
  • I was assailed by memories of a life that wasn't mine anymore, but one in which I'd found the simplest and most lasting joys.
  • Since we're all going to die, it's obvious that when and how don't matter.
  • The papers were always talking about the debt owed to society. According to them, it had to be paid. But that doesn't speak to the imagination. What really counted was the possibility of escape, a leap to freedom, out of the implacable ritual, a wild run for it that would give whatever chance for hope there was. Of course, hope meant being cut down on some street corner, as you ran like mad, by a random bullet. But when I really thought it through, nothing was going to allow me such a luxury. Everything was against it; I would just be caught up in the machinery again.
Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people.
  • I may not have been sure about what really did interest me, but I was absolutely sure about what didn't.
  • I had only a little time left and I didn't want to waste it on God.
  • Maman used to say that you can always find something to be happy about.
  • I don't know why, but something inside me snapped. I started yelling at the top of my lungs, and I insulted him and told him not to waste his prayers on me. I grabbed him by the collar of his cassock. I was pouring out on him everything that was in my heart, cries of anger and cries of joy.
    He seemed so certain about everything, didn't he? And yet none of his certainties was worth one hair of a woman's head. He wasn't even sure he was alive, because he was living like a dead man. Whereas it looked as if I was the one who'd come up emptyhanded. But I was sure about me, about everything, surer than he could ever be, sure of my life and sure of the death I had waiting for me. Yes, that was all I had. But at least I had as much of a hold on it as it had on me. I had been right, I was still right, I was always right. I had lived my life one way and I could just as well have lived it another. I had done this and I hadn't done that. I hadn't done this thing but I had done another. And so? It was as if I had waited all this time for this moment and for the first light of this dawn to be vindicated. Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living. What did other people's deaths or a mother's love matter to me; what did his God or the lives people choose or the fate they think they elect matter to me when we're all elected by the same fate, me and billions of privileged people like him who also called themselves my brothers? Couldn't he see, couldn't he see that? Everybody was privileged. There were only privileged people. The others would all be condemned one day. And he would be condemned, too.
Gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.
  • For the first time in a long time I thought about Maman. I felt as if I understood why at the end of her life she had taken a 'fiancé,' why she had played at beginning again. Even there, in that home where lives were fading out, evening was a kind of wistful respite. So close to death, Maman must have felt free then and ready to live it all again. Nobody, nobody had the right to cry over her. And I felt ready to live it all again too. As if the blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself — so like a brother, really — I felt I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.
    • Variant translation: I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.
      • As translated by Stuart Gilbert.

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)

  • Nothing is harder to understand than a symbolic work. A symbol always transcends the one who makes use of it and makes him say in reality more than he is aware of expressing.
  • What must be remembered in any case is that secret complicity that joins the logical and the everyday to the tragic.
    • "Hope and the Absurd in the work of Franz Kafka"

An Absurd Reasoning

  • What, then, is that incalculable feeling that deprives the mind of the sleep necessary to life? A world that can be explained even with bad reasons is a familiar world. But, on the other hand, in a universe suddenly divested of illusions and lights, man feels an alien, a stranger. His exile is without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity.
  • Like great works, deep feelings always mean more than they are conscious of saying.
  • Great novelists are philosopher-novelists whom write in images instead of arguments.
  • Great feelings take with them their own universe, splendid or abject. They light up with their passion an exclusive world in which they recognize their climate. There is a universe of jealousy, of ambition, of selfishness or generosity. A universe — in other words a metaphysic and an attitude of mind.
I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it.
  • At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
  • It happens that the stage sets collapse. Rising, streetcar, four hours in the office or the factory, meal, streetcar, four hours of work, meal, sleep and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm — this path is easily followed most of the time. But one day the "why" arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement.
  • If I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if I try to define and to summarize it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers. I can sketch one by one all the aspects it is able to assume, all those likewise that have been attributed to it, this upbringing, this origin, this ardor or these silences, this nobility or this vileness. But aspects cannot be added up.
  • I do not want to found anything on the incomprehensible. I want to know whether I can live with what I know and with that alone.
  • Everything considered, a determined soul will always manage.
  • I don’t know whether this world has a meaning that transcends it. But I know that I cannot know that meaning and that it is impossible for me just now to know it. What can a meaning outside my condition mean to me? I can understand only in human terms. What I touch, what resists me — that I understand. And these two certainties — my appetite for the absolute and for unity and the impossibility of reducing this world to a rational and reasonable principle — I also know that I cannot reconcile them. What other truth can I admit without lying, without bringing in a hope I lack and which means nothing within the limits of my conditions?
  • Knowing whether or not one can live without appeal is all that interests me.
  • Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
  • The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
  • Il n'y a qu'un problème philosophique vraiment sérieux: c'est le suicide.
    • There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterward. These are games; one must first answer.
  • To two men living the same number of years, the world always provides the same sum of experiences. It is up to us to be conscious of them.
  • The preceding merely defines a way of thinking. But the point is to live.

The Absurd Man

There is but one moral code that the absurd man can accept, the one that is not separated from God: the one that is dictated ... I start out here from the principle of his innocence.
That innocence is to be feared.
  • At this point of his effort man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world. This must not be forgotten. This must be clung to because the whole consequence of a life can depend on it. The irrational, the human nostalgia, and the absurd that is born of their encounter — these are the three characters in the drama that must necessarily end with all the logic of which an existence is capable.
All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly.
  • "My field," said Goethe, "is time." That is indeed the absurd speech. What, in fact, is the Absurd Man? He who, without negating it, does nothing for the eternal. Not that nostalgia is foreign to him. But he prefers his courage and his reasoning. The first teaches him to live without appeal and to get along with what he has; the second informs him of his limits. Assured of his temporally limited freedom, of his revolt devoid of future, and of his mortal consciousness, he lives out his adventure within the span of his lifetime.
  • There can be no question of holding forth on ethics. I have seen people behave badly with great morality and I note every day that integrity has no need of rules. There is but one moral code that the absurd man can accept, the one that is not separated from God: the one that is dictated. But it so happens that he lives outside that God. As for the others (I mean also immoralism), the absurd man sees nothing in them but justifications and he has nothing to justify. I start out here from the principle of his innocence.
    That innocence is to be feared.
    "Everything is permitted," exclaims Ivan Karamazov. That, too, smacks of the absurd. But on condition that it not be taken in a vulgar sense. I don't know whether or not it has been sufficiently pointed out that it is not an outburst of relief or of joy, but rather a bitter acknowledgment of a fact.
  • The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. "Everything is permitted" does not mean that nothing is forbidden.
  • All systems of morality are based on the idea that an action has consequences that legitimize or cancel it. A mind imbued with the absurd merely judges that those consequences must be considered calmly. It is ready to pay up. In other words, there may be responsible persons, but there are no guilty ones, in its opinion. At very most, such a mind will consent to use past experience as a basis for its future actions.
  • Time will prolong time, and life will serve life. In this field that is both limited and bulging with possibilities, everything to himself, except his lucidity, seems unforeseeable to him. What rule, then, could emanate from that unreasonable order? The only truth that might seem instructive to him is not formal: it comes to life and unfolds in men. The absurd mind cannot so much expect ethical rules at the end of its reasoning as, rather, illustrations and the breath of human lives.
  • A sub-clerk in the post office is the equal of a conqueror if consciousness is common to them. All experiences are indifferent in this regard. There are some that do either a service or a disservice to man. They do him a service if he is conscious. Otherwise, that has no importance: a man's failures imply judgment, not of circumstances, but of himself.

Absurd Creation

  • If the world were clear, art would not exist.
  • One recognizes one's course by discovering the paths that stray from it.
  • To work and create "for nothing," to sculpture in clay, to know one's creation has no future, to see one's work destroyed in a day while being aware that fundamentally this has no more importance than building for centuries — this is the difficult wisdom that absurd thought sanctions. Performing these two tasks simultaneously, negating on the one hand and magnifying on the other, it the way open to the absurd creator. He must give the void its colors.
  • A profound thought is in a constant state of becoming; it adopts the experience of a life and assumes its shape. Likewise, a man's sole creation is strengthened in its successive and multiple aspects: his works. One after another they complement one another, correct or overtake one another, contradict one another, too. If something brings creation to an end, it is not the victorious and illusory cry of the blinded artist: "I have said everything," but the death of the creator which closes his experiences and the book of his genius.
    That effort, that superhuman consciousness are not necessarily apparent to the reader. There is no mystery in human creation. Will performs this miracle. But at least there is no true creation without a secret. To be true, a succession of works can be but a series of approximations of the same thought. But it is possible to conceive of another type of creator proceeding by juxtaposition. Their words may seem to be devoid of inter-relations, to a certain degree, they are contradictory. But viewed all together, they resume their natural groupings.
  • Of all the schools of patience and lucidity, creation is the most effective. It is also the staggering evidence of man's sole dignity: the dogged revolt against his condition, perseverance in an effort considered sterile. It calls for a daily effort, self-mastery, a precise estimate of the limits of truth, measure, and strength. It constitutes an ascesis. All that "for nothing," in order to repeat and mark time. But perhaps the great work of art has less importance in itself than in the ordeal it demands of a man and the opportunity it provides him of overcoming his phantoms and approaching a little closer to his naked reality.
  • Ironic philosophies produce passionate works.
    Any thought that abandons unity glorifies diversity! And diversity is the home of art. The only thought to liberate the mind is that which leaves it alone, certain of its limits and of its impending end. No doctrine tempts it. It awaits the ripening of the work and of life.
Outside of that single fatality of death, everything, joy or happiness, is liberty.
  • In that daily effort in which intelligence and passion mingle and delight each other, the absurd man discovers a discipline that will make up the greatest of his strengths. The required diligence and doggedness and lucidity thus resemble the conqueror's attitude. To create is likewise to give a shape to one's fate. For all these characters, their work defines them at least as much as it is defined by them. The actor taught us this: There is no frontier between being and appearing.
  • Outside of that single fatality of death, everything, joy or happiness, is liberty.
  • The world evades us because it becomes itself again. That stage scenery masked by habit becomes what it is. It withdraws at a distance from us.
  • If the only significant history of human thought were to be written, it would have to be the history of its successive regrets and its impotences.
  • A fate is not a punishment.
  • The actor’s realm is that of the fleeting.
  • This was her finest role and the hardest one to play. Choosing between heaven and a ridiculous fidelity, preferring oneself to eternity or losing oneself in God is the age-old tragedy in which each must play his part.

The Myth of Sisyphus

Online text
"I conclude that all is well," says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred.
  • The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
  • Opinions differ as to the reasons why he became the futile laborer of the underworld. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in regard to the gods. He stole their secrets.
  • Homer tells us also that Sisyphus had put Death in chains. Pluto could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror.
  • You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Sisyphus in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them.
  • There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.
    If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. This word is not too much. Again I fancy Sisyphus returning toward his rock, and the sorrow was in the beginning.
  • One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. "What! — by such narrow ways — ?" There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd. Discovery. It happens as well that the felling of the absurd springs from happiness.
The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
  • "I conclude that all is well," says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile suffering. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.
  • I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
    • Original French: La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un cœur d'homme; il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.
    • Variant translation: The fight itself towards the summits suffices to fill a heart of man; it is necessary to imagine Sisyphus happy.

Notebooks (1942-1951)

  • So many men are deprived of grace. How can one live without grace? One has to try it and do what Christianity never did: be concerned with the damned.
  • There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.
  • The greatest saving one can make in the order of thought is to accept the unintelligibility of the world -- and to pay attention to man.
  • Poor and free rather than rich and enslaved. Of course, men want to be both rich and free, and this is what leads them at times to be poor and enslaved.

The Plague (1947)

On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. ... the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill.
  • Query: How to contrive not to waste one's time? Answer: By being fully aware of it all the while. Ways in which this can be done: By spending one's days on an uneasy chair in a dentist's waiting room; by remaining on one's balcony all a Sunday afternoon; by travelling by the longest and least-convenient train routes, and of course standing all the way; by queueing at the box-office of theatres and then not booking a seat.
  • When a war breaks out, people say: "It's too stupid; it can't last long." But though the war may well be "too stupid," that doesn't prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we were not always so much wrapped up in ourselves.
  • He tried to recall what he had read about the disease. Figures floated across his memory, and he recalled that some thirty or so great plagues known to history had accounted for nearly a hundred million deaths. But what are a hundred million deaths? When one has served in a war, one hardly knows what a dead man is, after a while. And since a dead man has no substance unless one actually sees him dead, a hundred million corpses broadcast through history are no more than a puff of smoke in the imagination.
  • There lay certitude; there, in the daily round. All the rest hung on mere threads and trivial contingencies; you couldn't waste your time on it. The thing was to do your job as it should be done.
  • "What on earth prompted you to take a hand in this?"
    "I don't know. My… my code of morals, perhaps."
    "Your code of morals. What code, if I may ask?"
    "Comprehension."
  • The important thing isn't the soundness or otherwise of the argument, but for it to make you think.
  • The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole men are more good than bad; that, however, isn't the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance which fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. There can be no true goodness, nor true love, without the utmost clear-sightedness.
  • There always comes a time in history when the person who dares to say that 2+2=4 is punished by death. And the issue is not what reward or what punishment will be the outcome of that reasoning. The issue is simply whether or not 2+2=4.
  • Yes, there was an element of abstraction and unreality in misfortune. But when an abstraction starts to kill you, you have to get to work on it.
  • In Oran, as elsewhere, for want of time and thought, people have to love one another without knowing it.

The Rebel (1951)

Every ideology is contrary to human psychology.
  • Absolute freedom mocks at justice. Absolute justice denies freedom. To be fruitful, the two ideas must find their limits in each other.
    • "Historical Murder", as translated by Anthony Bower
  • The slave begins by demanding justice and ends by wanting to wear a crown. He must dominate in his turn.
  • One might think that a period which, in a space of fifty years, uproots, enslaves, or kills seventy million human beings should be condemned out of hand. But its culpability must still be understood... In more ingenuous times, when the tyrant razed cities for his own greater glory, when the slave chained to the conqueror's chariot was dragged through the rejoicing streets, when enemies were thrown to the wild beasts in front of the assembled people, the mind did not reel before such unabashed crimes, and the judgment remained unclouded. But slave camps under the flag of freedom, massacres justified by philanthropy or by a taste for the superhuman, in one sense cripple judgment. On the day when crime dons the apparel of innocence — through a curious transposition peculiar to our times — it is innocence that is called upon to justify itself.
  • If Nietzsche and Hegel serve as alibis to the masters of Dachau and Karaganda, that does not condemn their entire philosophy. But it does lead to the suspicion that one aspect of their thought, or of their logic, can lead to these appalling conclusions.
  • Every ideology is contrary to human psychology.
  • Every rebellion implies some kind of unity.
  • Every revolutionary ends as an oppressor or a heretic.
    • Variant translation: Every revolutionary ends by becoming either an oppressor or a heretic.
  • Nothing can discourage the appetite for divinity in the heart of man.
  • For those of us who have been thrown into hell, mysterious melodies and the torturing images of a vanished beauty will always bring us, in the midst of crime and folly, the echo of that harmonious insurrection which bears witness, throughout the centuries, to the greatness of humanity.
  • When the throne of God is overturned, the rebel realizes that it is now his own responsibility to create the justice, order, and unity that he sought in vain within his own condition, and in this way to justify the fall of God. Then begins the desperate effort to create, at the price of crime and murder if necessary, the dominion of man.
  • The real saint”, Baudelaire pretends to think, “is he who flogs and kills people for their own good.” His argument will be heard. A race of real saints is beginning to spread over the earth for the purposes of confirming these curious conclusions about rebellion.

The Fall (1956)

In order to cease being a doubtful case, one has to cease being, that's all.
  • To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.
  • In order to cease being a doubtful case, one has to cease being, that's all.
  • Let’s not beat around the bush; I love life — that’s my real weakness. I love it so much that I am incapable of imagining what is not life.
  • God is not needed to create guilt or to punish. Our fellow men suffice, aided by ourselves.
  • N'attendez pas le Jugement dernier. Il a lieu tous les jours.
    • Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day. Wikiquote-logo.svg QOTD 2007·11·07 Sound file
    • Variant translations: I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day.
      Do not await the last Judgement. It takes place everyday.
      You needn't await the Final Judgment. It takes place every day.

Resistance, Rebellion, and Death (1960)

  • I do not have much liking for the too famous existential philosophy, and, to tell the truth, I think its conclusions false.
    • "Pessimism and Tyranny"
  • When the imagination sleeps, words are emptied of their meaning: a deaf population absent-mindedly registers the condemnation of a man. ... there is no other solution but to speak out and show the obscenity hidden under the verbal cloak.
    • "Reflections on the Guillotine"
  • A punishment that penalizes without forestalling is indeed called revenge.
    • "Reflections on the Guillotine"
  • The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience. It would be easy, however, to destroy that good conscience by shouting to them: if you want the happiness of the people, let them speak out and tell what kind of happiness they want and what kind they don't want! But, in truth, the very ones who make use of such alibis know they are lies; they leave to their intellectuals on duty the chore of believing in them and of proving that religion, patriotism, and justice need for their survival the sacrifice of freedom.
    • "Homage to an Exile", published as an essay in Actuelles III, originally a speech "delivered 7 December 1955 at a banquet in honor of President Eduardo Santos, editor of El Tiempo, driven out of Colombia by the dictatorship".

A Happy Death (1971)

  • Only it takes time to be happy. A lot of time. Happiness, too, is a long patience.
  • Having money is a way of being free of money.
  • It's better to bet on this life than on the next.
  • It takes time to live. Like any work of art, life needs to be thought about.
  • To have time was at once the most magnificent and the most dangerous of experiments. Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.
  • Believe me, there is no such thing as great suffering, great regret, great memory...Everything is forgotten, even great love.
  • He marveled at the strange blindness by which men, though they are so alert to what changes in themselves, impose on their friends an image chosen for them once and for all.
  • Happiness implied a choice, and within that choice a concerted will, a lucid desire.
  • The opposite of an idealist is too often a man without love.
  • Fate is not in man but around him.

American Journals (1978)

  • Manhattan. Sometimes from beyond the skyscrapers, across of thousands of high walls, the cry of a tugboat finds you in your insomnia in the middle of the night, and you remember that this desert of iron and cement is an island.

Quotes about Camus

  • As a writer Camus maintained his independence from both friends and enemies in the political and philosophical movements that attempted to subvert his writing to their own ends. ... Camus combines a taut writing style, as well as profound insights on society, with the courage to report back from the abyss of despair, unblinking.
    • Ottar G. Draugsvold in Nobel Writers on Writing (2000)

External links

Wikipedia
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Simple English

Albert Camus (November 7, 1913January 4, 1960) was a French philosopher and writer. Camus wrote novels and plays. Camus was born in Algeria, a country in the North part of Africa. He had French parents. Many people think that Camus is an existentialist philosopher. Existentialism is a philosophy that is very different from other ways of thinking. Camus won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957.

Contents

His life

Early years

Albert Camus was born in Algeria to a poor working class family. His mother was Spanish and his father was French. His father died in battle and he was left to live with his grandmother. When he was 17 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, which was very impactful on him at that point in his life. It limited him greatly in his athletics as well as in his career opportunities, due to the fact that tuberculosis is quite contagious. For this reason he claimed that his disease “set him free” because he would have done something else with his life had he seen the opportunity. He went to the University of Algiers, where he graduated with a degree in 1935. In the 1930s, Camus became interested in politics. In 1935, Camus joined the French Communist Party, a political group. In the late 1930s, Camus was a writer for the socialist newspaper, the Alger-Republicain.

1940s

In 1941, Camus wrote his first novel, which was called The Stranger. During World War II, Camus joined the French Resistance to fight against the Nazi army. After World War II, Camus became friends with another writer called Jean-Paul Sartre. Camus and Sartre often talked about philosophy and politics in small restaurants called cafés.

1950s

Camus wrote books about philosophy (ways of thinking) which said that life was "absurd" (makes no sense, or has no meaning). In the 1950s Camus tried to improve human rights. In 1960, Camus died in a car crash. He had two children, Catherine and Jean.

Some of his novels (stories)

  • The Stranger (l'étranger) (sometimes called The Outsider) (1942)
  • The Plague (la peste) (1947)
  • The Fall (la chute)(1956)

Some of his books about philosophy

  • Betwixt and Between (1937)
  • The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)
  • The Rebel (1951)

Plays

  • Caligula (1938)
  • The Misunderstanding (1944)
  • State of Siege (1948)
  • The Just Assassins (1949)
  • The Possessed (1959)

Other pages

Books about Camus

  • Camus (1959) by the writer Germaine Brée
  • Albert Camus, A Study of His Work (1957) by the writer Usamah Siddiqui
  • Heiner Wittmann: Sartre and Camus in Aesthetics. The Challenge of Freedom. Hrsg. v. Dirk Hoeges. Dialoghi/Dialogues. Literatur und Kultur Italiens und Frankreichs, Band 13, Peter Lang, Frankfurt 2009 ISBN 978-3-631-58693-8

Other websites

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mrj:Камю, Альбер







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