French writer and philosopher (1913-1960). Nobel Prize in 1957.
Childhood in Algeria
Albert Camus wasborn on 7 November 1913 in Mondovi, a small village located on the easterncoast of Algeria near the Tunisian border, nicknamed by itsinhabitants “little Paris” and known for itsvineyards and for growing oranges. At this point Algeria was part of France, and the village wasfounded by men and womenwhohad come from Paris to establish an agricultural commune. Albert’sfather, Lucien, wasfrom Bordeaux and worked in a wine-cellar on a vineyardestate.
In 1914, Lucien wasdraftedinto the regiment of the 1st Zouaves. He wassoonfatallywoundedduring the Battle of the Marne, and diedafter a weekspent in agony on 11 October the sameyear. He isburied in the militarygraveyard of Saint-Brieuc, in Côtes-d’Armor (Brittany), wherehehad beenpreviouslyhospitalised and treated.
Hiswidow Catherine Sintès – whowas of Spanishorigin – and twochildrensettled in Algiers, where life continueddespitetheirmourning. In hisposthumousworkLe Premier Homme, Camus recounts the fictionalrecollections of a son at hisfather’s grave. In Algiers, the familylived in the working-class area of Belcourt, where Albert and hisbrother Lucien werepassionate about football.
Writing and activism: the literarybeginnings of Albert Camus
Fromwhen Albert Camus startedschool in 1918, histeachersnotedhewasgifted, in particular Louis Germain, whohelpedhimobtain a scholarshipthatallowedhim to attend the Lycée Bugeaud in 1924 to continue hisadvancedstudies in humanities. In particular, hisphilosophyteacher Jean Grenier left a lasting impression on the youngstudent. In 1930, whilesufferingfromtuberculosis, hemoved in withhisunclewhoowned a butcher’s shop. In the spring of 1932, whilehewasimmersed in reading the greatauthors of the daycourtesy of hisuncle’slibrary, hebegan to write and publish articles such as “Un nouveau Verlaine” (A new Verlaine), in the journal Sud.
In June 1934 hemarried Simone Hié, whowasbothunfaithful and a morphine addict, littlesuspectingthatthis union would last onlytwoyears. In 1935 hejoined the Communist Party (whichheleft in the fall of 1937), joined the anti-facistmovement “Amsterdam-Pleyel” started by Henri Barbusse and Romain Rolland and founded a theatre troupe, Le Théâtre du Travail (The Theatre of Labour). The playsthat the group performedechoed the strongly-heldbeliefs of the future author; theyperformedLe Temps du mépris (Days of Contempt), adaptedfrom Malraux, and Prométhée enchaîné (Prometheus Bound) by Aeschylus. In collaboration with the members of the troupe, Camus alsowrote the bannedplayRévolte dans les Asturies (Revolt in Asturias), transforming the troupe into an actors’ collective.
In May 1936 hegraduated in philosophy, with a thesisentitled ‘Christian metaphysics and neoplatonism: Plotinus and Saint Augustine’. His fragile healthpreventedhimfromtakinghisteachingdiploma, soheundertook a number of odd jobs, includingsalesman and administrator. In 1937 hepublishedhis first work, the essayL’Envers et l’endroit (Betwixt and Between). In 1938, heearned a living by becoming a meteorology assistant and alsofounded a publishing house with Claude Fréminville.
The pen as a warweapon
Camus joined the editorial staff of the Alger Républicain (1938-1940), whichbecame the Soir républicain;hethenleft Algeria for Paris wherehejoined the editorial staff of Paris Soir in May 1940. Hispoorhealthpreventedhimfromenlisting in the war effort in 1939. However, in place of weaponshetook up hispen. In June 1940, Paris Soirwasrelocated to Clermont-Ferrand, itwasherethat Albert Camus marriedhispartner Francine Faure on 3 December, havingdivorced Simone. AfterleavingParis Soirhereturned to Francine’shometown of Oran - theresheworked as a substitute teacher and he gave lessons at privateschoolswhileattempting to form a theatrecompany.
Resisting the war and earlysuccess
Hispoor state of healthforced Camus to take refuge at the Panelierfarm in July 1942, whichdeterminedthathe and Francine wereseparateduntil the end of 1944. During the war, he made acquaintancewith Francis Ponge, Aragon and Elsa Triolet, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In 1942 Camus published one of hisgreatestsuccesses: L’Etranger (The Stranger). He waspraised by Pascal Pia, André Malraux and Jean Paulhan, and itwas the start of his collaboration and greatfriendshipwith Michel and Robert Gallimard. Mythe de Sisyphe (Myth of Sisyphus) waspublished in October 1942, followed by Malentendu (The Misunderstanding) (1944) and Caligula (1945). In 1943, Camus joined the network of resistance fighters "Combat", bothwriting and providing information.
He became a father to the twins Catherine and Jean on 5 September 1945.
Composition and publication of La Peste
"Combat" became a newspaperafter the Liberation of Paris, and Camus co-editedituntil 1947. In 1946, he gave a series of lectures in New York and the United States. In August of the sameyear, hefinallymanaged to finish a novelthathad been <span class="SpellingError SCXW308