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Albert Camus

[kah' myoo] journalist, essayist, novelist, playwright

Albert Camus

Albert Camus was born in Mondovi, Algeria, on November 7, 1913, the second child of Lucien Auguste Camus, a military veteran and wine-shipping clerk, and of Catherine Marie Cardona, a housekeeper and part-time factory worker. His father was recalled to military service after the outbreak of World War I, and, on October 11, 1914, died of shrapnel wounds suffered at the First Battle of the Marne. He, his mother, and older brother then moved to Algiers, where they lived with his maternal uncle and grandmother in a cramped second-floor apartment in the working-class district of Belcourt.

A distinguished student at the local Ecole Communale, Camus was awarded a scholarship to attend high school at the Grand Lycee, located near the Kasbah district. By the time he graduated in June 1932 he was already contributing articles to Sud, a literary monthly. In 1933 he enrolled at the University of Algiers, where he studied philosophy, sociology, and psychology. He earned his degree and completed his dissertation, a study of the influence of Plotinus and neo-Platonism on the thought and writings of St. Augustine, in 1936, the same year his first published play, Revolt in Austria, appeared.

Camus's first two literary works, Betwixt and Between, a collection of five short semi-autobiographical and philosophical pieces and Nuptials, a series of lyrical celebrations interspersed with wistful political and philosophical reflections on North Africa and the Mediterranean, were published in 1937-1938. In 1938 he joined the staff of the Alger Républicain, where his assignments as a reporter and reviewer covered everything from contemporary European literature to local political trials. He made his first trip to France, as a journalist, in 1939-1940. His first novel, The Stranger, was published in 1942. The novel received many favorable reviews, including one from Jean-Paul Sartre, and propelled him into literary renown.

Camus returned to France in 1942, joined the French Resistance, and became editor of the underground newspaper Combat. During the war he also published his The Myth of Sisyphus, an essay on suicide and the absurd, and joined Gallimard Publishing as an editor, a position he held until his death. He continued as editor of Combat after the war, while also overseeing the production and publication of two plays, The Misunderstanding and Caligula. The Plague , an allegorical novel and fictional parable of the Nazi Occupation and the duty of revolt, was published in 1947; The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt , a reflection on the nature of freedom and rebellion and a philosophical critique of revolutionary violence, was published in 1952; and The Fall , a short, confessional novel, was published in 1956. In between his literary work Camus lectured in the United States and South America.

In the fall of 1957, after publication of Exile and the Kingdom, a collection of short fiction, Camus was notified that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Camus spent the rest of his life publishing articles, writing, producing, and directing plays, formulating new concepts for film and television, and campaigning for peace and a political solution in Algeria. He was still at the height of his literary career when, on January 4, 1960, he was killed in a car accident at Petit Villeblin, France, while a passenger in a vehicle driven by his friend and publisher Michel Gallimard, who also suffered fatal injuries. He was buried in the local cemetery at Lourmarin, a village in Provencal where he and his wife and daughters had lived for nearly a decade.

aftermath of the car accident that killed Albert Camus and his publisher
aftermath of the car accident that killed Albert Camus and his publisher


Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

See Also

World War I
Nobel Prize for Literature

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The Robinson Library >> French Literature

This page was last updated on 09/11/2018.