Camus, a Romance
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In fact, his voice in that book was so real that it affected me like a visitation. All the old feelings came flooding back, all the drive of my original mission, and then, perhaps most strongly, a profound pride in Camus simply because he was still the Camus I knew him to be.
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It struck me that it was ironic but not out of character that in what would be his final work, he had at long last relinquished his privacy, climbed down from his pedestal, and faced up publicly to his real self. In effect, he was asking for understanding. And I was quite helplessly engaged anew. I spent a long time looking at the cover of The First Man, which shows a thirteen- or fourteen-year-old gamin-like Camus grinning shyly at the camera.
He radiates the mischief and innocence of boyhood, but he also looks unmistakably and irresistibly like himself, the man as child. On an inside page of the volume, I studied a reproduction of a page from his original manuscript, written in a tiny, tight, almost indecipherable script. That is why I resumed the pursuit: I felt a flicker of his living presence, and beyond the work I wanted to find the man. There is more to know about Camus today than when I was a student and he was in large part a mythic figure. The final volume of his journals and an assortment of youthful writings, including a novel, have been published.
Most of his essays from the Resistance newspaper Combat have been translated into English.
He is again a popular and provocative subject there. In America, he is material for book clubs, and his relationship with Sartre is the focus of seminars at important universities.
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Yet after all these years, I still think of Camus as my subject. He has proved himself to be at the very least a good man and a credible hero. His beliefs have taken on the added weight of prescience; his thoughts on violence and terrorism are timely; his humanism and honesty, sometimes astonishing, are more admirable than ever.
As an independent thinker in difficult times, he provides a model that is very relevant in our current day. But my reaction derives from more than all this. Ultimately, it is personal. To my way of thinking, Camus would not have existed without me or I without him. Our relationship is about both of us, about who he was and who I was and still am.
If he is my writer, I am his reader. Camus, however, had quickly passed Maria the incriminating papers to hide in her coat, and they were released. Like the other small dramas that were then his daily fare—sheltering dangerous friends, changing apartments under the cover of night, a hasty exodus from Paris by bicycle—this story had made me proud of Camus and his unhesitating engagement, and also pleased with myself, because by the sheer force of knowing about this event I was in a way associated with it.
But this feeling of complicity, however natural to the subject-mentor relationship, was objectionably shallow, for even now, enlightened by biographies, war histories, and documentaries, I have no way of understanding what it meant to suffer a long war and live under an occupation, no way to shed my Americanness, my time line, or my innocence.
As if to confirm my situation, I suddenly became aware of a song on the radio, which the announcer was introducing as number two on the hit parade. I was involved with his words rather than his life, and our relationship had an enviable purity, a desert-island quality of privacy that had to be compromised once I became more than a mere reader and imaginary sidekick and began to accumulate facts.
Facts, with their cool and incontestable authority, have a way of sabotaging understanding, clouding perspective, and shattering the intimacy one has enjoyed with a subject. Once I had taken a footstep into his past, I would be caught in the impossible task of playing catch-up with an era with which I had only the most tenuous connections. I would be alternately exhausted and exhilarated by Camus, but as his life unfolded in bits and pieces and a tentative narrative emerged, I began to feel that I knew him, and this feeling was the beginning of understanding and a new kind of love.
Camus, a Romance | Grove Atlantic
Was it partly her growing competence in research? Is that your sense of the man, too? Do you see these themes evolving in his life as Hawes depicts it? Was he able to achieve this moderation in his life? His writings? Talk about how he was paradoxically pulled both by a longing for discipline and a far looser nature, anarchic at times, as he explored his ideas of liberty. Did TB and enforced rests put a brake on some of his overexertions? Give examples. The story is described on p.
This is the philosophical work savaged by Sartre and other Paris intellectuals. The Stranger? Talk about this country three times the size of France, whose history and brutal war continue to haunt the French.
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Why did it keep such a strong hold on Camus? How did he feel about independence for Algeria pp. Talk about examples of these qualities in his life.
When you think of Camus, do you think of him as philosopher? Political activist? Or primarily writer? What was it that Camus hoped to achieve in his fiction? He admired philosophical writers like Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Melville, and Faulkner. If you want to be a philosopher, write novels. Talk about Camus and the Resistance and his work on Combat pp.
How did Camus become a celebrity? How were some of the expectations unrealistic? What happened with Sartre? He also felt loyalty and guilt in his multiple relationships. Are you surprised that he has been accused of being a misogynist in his novels? What interested you most about the women in this book?
Maria Casares? His mother? Talk about Camus and his fears of entrapment. How do claustrophobia and suffocation relate to his illness? His reputation? Even the Nobel Prize?
What has been the influence of Camus? Ironically, as Europeans tired of him and viewed cynically his Nobel, his readership flourished in America. Are you curious to read or see his theatrical versions of Faulkner and Dostoyevsky? Grove Press. About The Book Albert Camus is best known for his contribution to twentieth-century literature. Tags Literary.
Excerpt During my last college years, I had a photograph of Albert Camus prominently displayed above my desk—the famous Cartier-Bresson portrait with the trench coat and dangling cigarette. When I picked this up I was really hoping for a meditation on how we attach ourselves to authors and construct wholly idealized and unreal idols of them for our own personal use--a sort of philosophy I think what makes this biography so likeable is that Hawes includes her own memoir at the same time.
The reader not only gets a portrait of one of the most influential writers of all time but Hawes Camus, a Romance. Elizabeth Hawes. Elizabeth Hawes was a college sophomore in the s when she became transfixed and transformed by Albert Camus.