Albert Camus was a French Algerian novelist, journalist, playwright, philosopher and Nobel laureate. Hey was born in 1913, November 7 in French Algeria in a place called Mondovi. His parents were a Spanish mother whose left ear was impaired and a poor agricultural father was origin was Alsatian. His father, while in the 1st World War in 1914, was wounded and later succumbed to death. Since her mother had no regular job except for working as a house help, Camus lived in poverty during his childhood.
Camus enrolled primary school in 1918. It was then that he got to meet Louis Germain who was not only an exceptional teacher but also helped Camus to get a scholarship to Algiers lycée (high school) in 1923. Their relationship was clearly very important to Camus as 34 years later during acceptance of his Nobel Prize he dedicated his speech to Germain. After high school he joined the University of Algiers. This marked a period of huge intellectual awakening. Camus was also keen on sports; he played as a goalkeeper in football and also participated in boxing and swimming. His sporting and learning activities were however interrupted in 1930 when he contracted Tuberculosis. As such, he had to leave the small apartment where he lived with his mother and uncle to get his own place. He would support himself through odd jobs such as private tutoring or being a clerk at a car parts site. In 1936, he completed his degree and thesis successfully.
In 1935, Camus joined the French Communist Party but was later kicked out because of his involvement with the Algerian People’s Party. Through an introduction by André Prudhommeaux, Camus joined the French anarchist movement. After then he wrote several publications for the anarchist movement.
Camus’s first marriage was in 1934 to Simone Hie. The marriage broke up later due unfaithfulness by both spouses. He then married Francine Faure with whom he had twins. Although he married, he always detested the institution of marriage. In 1960, Camus died in a road accident near Sens.
During his lifetime, Camus wrote numerous works. These were in the form of novels, plays, short stories, non-fiction books and essays. His novels include: The Stranger which is the story of a man who lived an absurd life, The Plague, The Fall, A Happy Death; a story about a man named Patrice Mersault and The First Man which was the novel he was writing when he died, (Todd, 23)
The renowned collection of short stories by Camus is titled Exile and the Kingdom. It contains the six short stories: The Growing Stone, The Guest, Adulterous Woman, Jonas or the Artist at work, The Silent men and The Renegade or a Confused Spirit.
Camus also wrote several plays. His first play, Caligula was written in 1938 but performed in 1945. It is about a Roman Emperor who pursued absurd logic. Other plays by Camus include The Possessed, The Just Assassins, Requiem for a Nun, The Misunderstanding and The State of Siege.
Other works by Camus include non-fiction works and essays. Non-fiction works by Camus include: Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel, Nuptials, Albert Camus, Maria Casarès Correspondance inédite (1944-1959) and the Algerian Chronicles. Some of his essays are The Crisis of a Man, Create Dangerously, Neither Victims Nor Executioners, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, Why Spain? and The Ancient Greek Tragedy, (Todd, 24).
Effect on the World
Through his life, Camus impacted on the world in many different ways. As an author of plays, novels, essays and even non-fiction work, Camus helped to speak for his generation and also inspire the following generations not only in France or Europe but also the whole world. Although his writings are still a main source of his fame, it is in the way he lived his life serving as an example by living out his philosophy that he got to be of service to the world.
In his life and literary career, Camus covered several ideas which are very core to societies of the world. One of these ideas was existentialism. As one of the forefathers of existentialism, Camus argued that instead of following external sources to the meaning of life, people should embrace the absurdity of life, (Sagi, 64). Another problem that Camus attempted to understand was suicide. In his work The Myth of Sisyphus Camus argues that suicide is the most important philosophical question and also that different kinds of lives could be worth living even though they are considered meaningless which is better than suicide. Lastly, Camus impacted the history of the world by covering the idea of totalitarianism. He argued and spoke against dictatorship and all of its many forms. During the Second World War when Germany forcefully wanted to occupy France, Camus resisted actively by directing the resistance journal called Combat. Camus actively spoke out against the dictatorship of the Soviet Union. A good example of this was during his speech in 1957 during commemoration of the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, he spoke against the use of the Red Army to crush the Hungarian Revolution, (Foley, 101).
In my view, Albert Camus was a strong leader who was ready to call out the evils around him without fear. As a philosopher, he believed in his principles to the extent that when they clashed with the people around him or those he was affiliated to, he was ready to break those ties for what he believed. Before becoming an anarchist, Camus had to break ties with his Communist counterparts because their principles did not agree. As a leader, Camus was strong enough to lead by example.
Camus was also brilliant, ambitious and resilient. He was born in a poor family and just a year after his birth, his father died. When he was seventeen years old, he contracted Tuberculosis and had to move out from their unhealthy house to live on his own. Despite all these challenges, Camus developed into a renowned philosopher and writer.
Foley, John. Albert Camus: From the absurd to revolt. Routledge, 2014.
Sagi, Abraham. Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the Absurd. Vol. 125. Rodopi, 2002.
Todd, Olivier. Albert Camus: A Life. Random House, 2015.