January 4th, 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death…I just took the opportunity of the massive media attack on this tragic event to invite you to read Jean Daniel”s OpEd. It’s very honest and poignant. I particularly liked these lines:

Albert Camus s’est éloigné de «l’Express», où je n’avais pas eu de mal à contribuer à le faire entrer parce qu’il avait compté sur Mendès France et sur lui seul pour résoudre la tragédie algérienne. Le silence qu’il a choisi d’adopter ensuite a pris les aspects d’une rupture, même avec moi. J’en ai souffert. Il a été l’honneur et le soleil de ma jeunesse entre 1947 et 1957. Et quand il a eu le prix Nobel, j’en ai été heureux comme s’il était de ma famille. Je lui ai écrit que mon admiration et mon affection pour lui demeuraient inaltérées et que, chaque fois qu’il avait estimé que j’avais tort, je n’avais plus été tout à fait sûr d’avoir raison.

You might also want to read what Libé (ration) writes about it these days. My reason for publishing these lines is that Camus, less than Zola but more than Proust, has certainly contributed to my personal intellectual formation in more ways than I could analyse up to now. He was torn between several feelings of belonging, to Algeria, to the French language, to the voiceless people. I guess my own background and multiple origins made him necessarily an author I was close to. I guess that’s the same reasoning Daniel Leconte had when he decided to write Camus, Si tu Savais…

Camus is one of these immediately accessible authors whose words carry out a variety of meanings and value long after you closed it. Some lines of La Peste, my personal favourite, are litterally inscribed in my conscience, despite the fact that when I first read this book, at the age of 15, and devoured is the more proper term, I had no idea of a second or third degree…yet, I still live today with his characters. The same goes for l’Etranger. When I think about Meursault I feel the torrid heat of that day on the beach…
However, no matter how brutal Camus’ death, I find it perfect, somehow the perfect adequation of his very short life. After all, he was suffering from tuberculosis, was a heavy smoker, hardly element to make him last till his centenary in two years. Can anyone imagine Camus old and cranky? What we miss, and what recognized Leconte, is his freedom of thought. Contrary to a Sartre who sometimes understood the value of compromise, Camus prefered to be alone than wrong with others.

I’m now waiting for people to re-discover my other “Pied-Noir” favourite, Jacques Derrida!

Meanwhile, I received from my friend Sarah, who’s blog I invite you to check, a very interesting link on the Express’s website stating the unease Algerian Press has at celebrating a writer who defined himself as Algerian but who also was a militant for the remaining of Algeria within the French imperial realm… Indeed, this is probably why I like Camus so much, he stood within contradictions which actually made a reality. He couldn’t let Algeria go, it was part of his soul, yet how could Algerians of the 21st century welcome with enthusiasm the celebrations of an author who would by far have preferred them to remain colonized. My way of looking at this is that in Camus’s view, this wasn’t colonization but integration…a concept which is of course now fully politically incorrect.  Yet, without such a concept, I wouldn’t be able to consider myself French and would deeply regret this as French is my Culture of origin, my cultural spine, whereas my other cultures constitute no lesser organs, such as my brains, heart and lungs…

3 thoughts on “Why Camus?

  1. Nice post !
    Daphné, I share your admiration for Camus and he has been a great inspiration to me as well, probably for similar reasons.
    Have a good day !


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