Albert Camus was born on the 7th of November, in 1913, in Mondovi, French Algeria. He was the bright son of Lucien Camus, an agriculturer, while his mother, Catherine Hélène Sintès Camus, was Spanish. Unfortunately, after his birth, Albert’s father died in WWI, leaving him as an orphan. His mother had a hard time meeting the financial expenses of the family. She shifted to Algiers to a working-class district, where they lived with his paternal grandmother and uncles.
Albert Camus was amazing at school and academics. Supported by a dedicated teacher, he won a scholarship and attended high school in Algiers. Later, Albert attended Algiers University and studied philosophy over there. Among his favorites were Friedrich Nietzsche and ancient Greek philosophers. He completed his degree Licence de Philosophie in 1933. By that time, he was an ardent admirer of the early Christian philosophers and fictional philosophers such as Herman Melville, Stendhal, Franz Kafka, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Albert died on the 4th of January in 1960 after a fatal car accident near Sens, France. He was coming back from New Year’s holidays with his friend Gallimard when this tragedy struck him. The world believed that he died in an accident, while speculations are still rife that the KGB was after him for his Soviet tirades.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- He was an ardent lover of theatre as he wrote, acted, adapted, and produced works for theatre, Théâtre du Travail.
- He won The Nobel Prize for literature in 1957.
- He was a great swimmer and soccer player, too.
Albert Camus began writing at a very young age and earned accolades from all sides. His first publication, L’Envers et l’endroit, a collection of essays, appeared in 1937. He successfully fictionalized his early years in these essays along with the priorities of his mother and other relations. Later, weaving the bounties of nature in 1938, he came up with another essay collection, Noces. Besides these, he also produced several articles after reviewing Jean Paul Sartre’s early literary works. These articles were published in 1958, drew attention to various malpractices that led to the outbreak of The Algerian War. Later, in 1942, he portrayed the alienation of the 20th century in his first novel, the stranger, followed by another novel, The Plague, which appeared in 1947. His third novel La Chute and a collection of short stories published in the years 1956 and 1957 respectively. The Myth of Sisyphus, The Possessed, Reflections on the Guillotine, and Neither Victims nor Executioners are some other works of Camus. He remains as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century,
Albert Camus chose to pen down his emotions and thought using a unique style. Instead of following the paradigms of writing set the former authors, he honed a distinctive narrative style that offers a perfect blend of fun, satire, and seriousness. Most of his pieces demonstrate the strands of philosophies of existentialism and absurdism. However, he is mostly known for fictionalizing the cases of revolting against injustices, oppressions, and discrimination such as The Rebel sets the limits for rebellion. Another work, La Chute deals with Christian symbolism and possesses a witty and ironic exposure of various forms of secular humorist morality. He mostly uses imagery, similes, metaphors, internal dialogues, and sound devices while most of his thematic strands include racism and slavery, quest of freedom, moral and intellectual education, and guilt.
Some Important Works of Albert Camus
- Best Novels: Some of his best novels include the stranger, The Plague, The Fall, A Happy Death, and The First Man.
- Other Works: Besides writing novels, he tried his hands on shorter fiction and nonfiction. Some of them include “Exile and the Kingdom”, “The Adulterous Woman”, “The Renegade or a Confused Spirit”, Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism, The Just Assassins, and Neither Victims nor Executioners.
Albert Camus’s Impact on Future Literature
Albert Camus, with his unique abilities, left a significant legacy that after many years of his demise, his works still attract the same attention. His ideas have confounded generations so much so that still new philosophical underpinnings are being traced in them. After World War II, he not only became the spokesman of his nation but also became the mentor of the world. His writings primarily addressed the issue of isolation of man in the universe, the biting existence of evil, and the pressing finality of death. Moreover, he is celebrated as a notable practitioner of existentialism and nihilism.
- In the next few years the struggle will not be between utopia and reality, but between different utopias, each trying to impose itself on reality … we can no longer hope to save everything, but … we can at least try to save lives, so that some kind of future, if perhaps not the ideal one, will remain possible. (Between Hell and Reason)
- Subject-painting isolates, in both time and space, an action that normally would become lost in another action. Thus the painter arrives at a point of stabilization. The really great creative artists are those who, like Piero Della Francesca, give the impression that the stabilization has only just taken place, that the projection machine has suddenly stopped dead. All their subjects give the impression that, by some miracle of art, they continue to live, while ceasing to be mortal. (The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt)
- 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)