“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”
― Albert Camus

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Today is the centenary of the birth of the great French writer, Albert Camus – probably best known for his novel “L’Etranger”. According to Wikipedia:

Albert Camus  (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the 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.

I first plucked up the courage to read Camus in my twenties when I discovered French authors with a vengeance. I remember vividly the day I read “The Plague” (my favourite Camus novel), an allegory of occupation that gripped me so much I read the whole volume in a day, and then sent off postcards to all my friends urging them to read the book instantly (this was of course in the prehistoric days before the Internet, mobile phones etc!)

plague

Camus was the basis for the character Henri Perron in Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Mandarins”, which I only read recently – it’s an excellent book which I wish I’d tackled years ago, and fascinating also for the portrait of Camus it provides.

I love reading Camus for what he says about the human condition. His work is lyrical but often brutal, and I’d recommend him to anyone who loves literature.

Happy birthday, Albert!

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
― Albert Camus