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Albert Camus (1913 – 1960)

In Camus’ pocket was an unused train ticket.

“The evil in the world comes almost always from ignorance, and goodwill can cause as much damage as ill-will if it is not enlightened. People are more often good than bad, though in fact that is not the question. But they are more or less ignorant and this is what one calls vice or virtue, the most appalling vice being the ignorance that thinks it knows everything and which consequently authorizes itself to kill. The murderer's soul is blind, and there is no true goodness or fine love without the greatest possible degree of clear-sightedness.”



“But again and again there comes a time in history when the man who dares to say that two and two make four is punished with death. The schoolteacher is well aware of this. And the question is not one of knowing what punishment or reward attends the making of this calculation. The question is one of knowing whether two and two do make four”



“In fact, it comes to this: nobody is capable of really thinking about anyone, even in the worst calamity. For really to think about someone means thinking about that person every minute of the day, without letting one’s thoughts be diverted by anything- by meals, by a fly that settles on one’s cheek, by household duties, or by a sudden itch somewhere. But there are always flies and itches. That’s why life is difficult to live.”


“Whereas during those months of separation time had never gone quickly enough for their liking and they were wanting to speed its flight, now that they were in sight of the town they would have liked to slow it down and hold each moment in suspense, once the breaks went on and the train was entering the station. For the sensation, confused perhaps, but none the less poingant for that, of all those days and weeks and months of life lost to their love made them vaguely feel they were entitled to some compensation; this present hour of joy should run at half the speed of those long hours of waiting.”


“On moonlight nights the long, straight street and dirty white walls, nowhere darkened by the shadow of a tree, their peace untroubled by footsteps or a dog's bark, glimmered in the pale recession. The silent city was no more than an assemblage of huge, inert cubes, between which only the mute effigies of great men, carapaced in bronze, with their blank stone or metal faces, conjured up a sorry semblance of what the man had been. In lifeless squares and avenues these tawdry idols lorded it under the lowering sky; stolid monsters that might have personified the rule of immobility imposed on us, or, anyhow, its final aspect, that of a defunct city in which plague, stone, and darkness had effectively silenced every voice.”


“At such moments the collapse of their courage, willpower, and endurance was so abrupt that they felt they could never drag themselves out of the pit of despond into which they had fallen. Therefore they forced themselves never to think about the problematic day of escape, to cease looking to the future, and always to keep, so to speak, their eyes fixed on the ground at their feet. But, naturally enough, this prudence, this habit of feinting with their predicament and refusing to put up a fight, was ill rewarded. For, while averting that revulsion which they found so unbearable, they also deprived themselves of those redeeming moments, frequent enough when all is told, when by conjuring up pictures of a reunion to be, they could forget about the plague. Thus, in a middle course between these heights and depths, they drifted through life rather than lived, the prey of aimless days and sterile memories, like wandering shadows that could have acquired substance only by consenting to root themselves in the solid earth of their distress.”



~ Albert Camus, The Plague


Life after death: the lasting legacy of Albert Camus


* * *



* Albert Camus was born in the small coastal town of Mondovi, Algeria, in 1913.

His father was from Bordeaux, and his mother had Spanish descent. Mondovi is a small coastal town. His family moved to the Belcourt section of Algiers after his father was killed in the Battle of Marne.


* He was raised in poverty by his mother, Catherine Helene Sintes-Camus, an illiterate and partially deaf cleaning woman, and his grandmother, Madame Sintes.


* Camus was an excellent student and he won a scholarship to attend high school.


* Camus disliked being labelled an existentialist.

He also later disliked being associated with Absurdism, and at one point began refraining from saying “that’s absurd” in everyday conversations because people mistakenly thought he was making philosophical pronouncements.


* Although he studied philosophy, he did not want to be recalled as a "philosopher" either.


* In 1934, he joined the Communist Party in reaction to the rise of fascism in Europe. But he was eventually expelled from the Party for his support of Algerian nationalism.


* Besides being a remarkable novelist, he was also a playwright and essayist.


* Although he forcefully separated himself from existentialism, Camus posed one of the twentieth century's best-known existentialist questions, which launches The Myth of Sisyphus: “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide.”


* Despite all, Camus didn’t think we should despair. We shouldn’t commit suicide.

Because there is something about the pointless struggle of rolling that huge rock up the mountain like -Sisyphus did in his essay- that makes his life worth living. It is still preferable to death.


* "Everything I know about morality and the obligations of men,” he once said, “I owe to football."

Albert Camus loved to play soccer but he had to stay away from soccer when he was 17 years due to tuberculosis.



* When Camus was 21 years old, he married a daughter of a rich ophthalmologist, Simone Hie in 1934.

The marriage only last for two years. His wife was a morphine addict. But then he wedded Francine Faure. She was a mathematician and pianist. They had twins, Catherine and Jane in 1945.


* However, Camus was involved with various affairs. One of the famous affairs was with Maria Casares.



 * Albert Camus visited the United States in 1946. While staying in New York, he visited the Central Park Zoo 20 times.



 * Camus was a lifelong smoker and it's difficult to find a photograph in which he is not holding a cigarette. He even had a cat named Cigarette.


* Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. The prize was awarded largely for his extended essay “Reflections on the Guillotine,” which argued against capital punishment.

He was the first African-born writer to receive the award. He was also the second youngest recipient of the prize and considered not accepting it. He worried that, among other things, it would negatively impact his writing.



* On January 4, 1960, Camus was killed in a single car accident in the small town of Villeblevin while travelling to Paris. His publisher and friend Michel Gallimard also died in the accident.

In Camus’ pocket was an unused train ticket.


* His once bitter rival Jean-Paul Sartre published a warm eulogy upon Camus’ death.



* Also reportedly found in the car was a manuscript for the first part of a proposed epic autobiographical novel. The manuscript was later edited and published in 1995 by Camus’ daughter as The First Man.



* The Stranger has twice been adapted into film, once by Italian director Luchino Visconti and again by Turkish director Zeki Demirkubuz.


"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."




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