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albert camus
(1913-1960)

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a l b e r t   c a m u s  :   b i o g r a p h y  ]


"To observe that life is absurd is not an end, but a beginning."
- Albert Camus


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    a l b e r t   c a m u s  :   f a c t s

  • Name: Albert Camus
  • Born: Nov. 7, 1913, Mondovi, Algeria
  • Awards: 1957, Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Died: Jan. 4, 1960, Villeblerin, France

    a l b e r t   c a m u s  :   b i o g .


    Sept. 2013: As part of photographing the covers and inner flaps of every book ever published, I've started the scans on Camus's books which can be viewed here. Just a few for the mo. but will be added to. If you have any photos of any Camus book covers from any part of the world why not e-mail (ihuppert5@aol.com) them to me and I'll put them up. The aim is to have a visual record of every Camus book ever published. Inner flaps and the publishers notes contain so much info about the book - I like to include at least the flap as well if possible. And your help makes it a lot easier. Or, if you prefer, you can send me your unwanted books and I can scan them. Any book, not just this author. Address: Paul Page, 5 High St., South Norwood, London SE25 6EP, UK. If you are thinking of chucking those books out then this would make a perfect alternative home for them.

    ----------

    French novelist, essayist, and playwright. Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work.

    Less than a year after Camus was born, his father, an impoverished worker of Alsatian origin, was killed in World War I during the First Battle of the Marne. His mother, of Spanish descent, worked as a charwoman to support her family. Camus and his elder brother Lucien moved with their mother to a working-class district of Algiers, where all three lived, together with the maternal grandmother and a paralyzed uncle, in a two-room apartment.

    In primary school, Camus found a teacher, Louis Germain, who recognized the young boy's intellectual potential and encouraged him in his studies.

    After taking a short break necessitated by a bout with tuberculosis, Camus continued his education at the University of Algiers. After earning a degree in philosophy, Camus relocated to Metropolitan France and took up journalism. In 1938, he accepted a post with the left-wing newspaper Alger-Républicain where he served alternately as sub-editor, social and political reporter, leader-writer, and book-reviewer. After World War II broke out, Camus used his literary talents to support the French Resistance, taking on the editorship of Combat, an important underground paper. He was briefly a member of the Communist Party.

    In 1947 Camus retired from political journalism and, besides writing his fiction and essays, was very active in the theatre as producer and playwright. He also adapted plays by Calderon, Lope de Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Faulkner. His love for the theatre may be traced back to his membership in L'Equipe, an Algerian theatre group, whose "collective creation" Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for political reasons. He soon established an international reputation with such works as The Stranger (1946), The Plague (1947),The Rebel (1954) and The Myth of Sisyphus (1955).

    The two most important of Camus' plays areCaligula (1938) and Cross Purpose (1944). In Caligula, a young Roman emperor comes face to face with the terrible lack of meaning in the universe after the senseless death of his beloved sister Drusilla. In order to teach the world the true nature of life, Caligula goes on a murderous spree, killing his subjects indiscriminately. After this act of rebellion fails, he chooses to court his own assassination.

    In Cross Purpose, Camus' second play, a man returns home after travelling the world for 20 years. His mother and sister keep an inn where, unbeknownst to him, they murder and rob rich travellers so that they will one day be able to move to the sea-shore. Unable to find the right words to reveal his identity, the prodigal son decides to spend the night in his family's inn posing as a stranger, thus becoming the next victim. When his identity is discovered, a string of suicides is set into motion--a theme which Camus would later explore in his philosophical work, The Myth of Sisyphus.

    The essay The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1942), expounds Camus's notion of the absurd and of its acceptance with "the total absence of hope, which has nothing to do with despair, a continual refusal, which must not be confused with renouncement - and a conscious dissatisfaction". Meursault, central character of The Stranger (L'Étranger, 1942), illustrates much of this essay: man as the nauseated victim of the absurd orthodoxy of habit, later - when the young killer faces execution - tempted by despair, hope, and salvation. His subsequent novel, The Plague (La Peste, 1947) depicted a city under siege by a mysterious plague that, like Nazism, intimidated and terrorized many, but also called forth a heroic determination to fight against it.

    Other well-known works of Camus are The Fall (La Chute, 1956), and Exile and the Kingdom (L'Exile et le royaume, 1957). Primarily a moralist rather than a philosopher, Camus was often mislabeled an "existentialist" in the mode of his sometime-ally, Jean-Paul Sartre.

    But, as Camus remarked in a review he wrote of Sartre's novel Nausea(La Nausée) in 1938: "To observe that life is absurd is not an end, but a beginning."

    His post-war nonfiction book The Rebel (L'Homme révolté, 1951) examined the dangerous tendency of revolutions to become tyrannies. Since the publication of this book he had been caught up in a controversy with Sartre, who - along with many other French leftist intellectuals - felt that Camus's critique of revolutionary excess played into the hands of rabid anti-Communists. In his scathingly self-critical novel La Chute(1956), Camus turned his moral searchlight on a character very like himself.

    Camus later got into trouble over the issue of independence for the former French colony of Algeria. Born and raised in the city of Algiers, Camus had always been sympathetic to the plight of the Arabs in this region. But he would not endorse the terrorist campaign of the Arab National Liberation Front (FLN) in their quest for independence, when it targeted innocent civilians.

    Camus wrote two other original plays, State of Siege (1948) and The Just (Les Justes, 1949). After this, his work for the stage consisted solely of translations and adaptations. The most brilliant of these were adaptations of Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun (1956) and Dostoevsky's The Possessed (1959).

    In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

    On January 4, 1960, Camus was killed in an automobile accident while returning to Paris with his friend and publisher Michel Gallimard. He was only forty-six years old.





    a l b e r t   c a m u s  :   s e l e c t e d   b o o k s kunderagreenegenetfowlessartrecamus
  • Révolte dans les Asturies (1934)
  • Caligula (1938)
  • Cross Purpose (1944)
  • The Stranger (L'Étranger, 1946)
  • The Plague (La Peste, 1947)
  • State of Siege (1948)
  • The Just (The Justes, 1949)
  • The Rebel (Homme révolté, 1954)
  • The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe, 1955)
  • The Fall (La Chute, 1956)
  • Exile and the Kingdom (L'Exile et le royaume, 1957)
  • The first man (Le premier homme, 1991 - posthumous)

Bibliography:

Todd, O. (1995). Albert Camus: a life

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biography | facts | selected books | books
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