Camus Does a Double-Take


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‘The Fall’ (La Chute) () Albert Camus

His father, a farmer, was killed in the First World War, leaving his deaf and illiterate wife to raise Camus and his elder brother. His memories of wars and experiences under the Nazi occupation permeated his philosophy and novels.


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After the liberation of France, he was a major figure in post-war French intellectual life. Camus defined the absurd as the futility of a search for meaning in an incomprehensible universe, devoid of God, or meaning.

Losing the Light

In the essay, Camus posed the fundamental philosophical question: is life worth living? Is suicide a legitimate response if life has no meaning? Like Sisyphus, we continue to ask about the meaning of life, only to find our answers tumbling back down. The philosopher asserts that we should embrace the absurdity of human existence and take on the purpose of creating value and meaning. Efforts and resilience — not suicide and despair — are the appropriate responses. Camus argued that Sisyphus is happy and that we must emulate his resilience.

The Greek hero is admirable for he accepts the pointlessness of his task, and instead of giving up or committing suicide, he has risen above his fate by deliberate choice and toils on. Set in the town of Oran which is overcome by the deadly epidemic, the novel is an allegory of German occupation of France; the plague is a metaphor for fascism and a totalitarian regime, Nazism.

Camus examines human responses to random evil and human solidarity in the face of an indifferent universe. Responding to the political climate of the time in Europe, Camus made a critique of communism and denounced the idea of revolution because of its tendency to transform into totalitarianism and collapse into terror, such as Nazism and Stalinism.


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As a pacifist, he advocated a humanistic, ethical, and social upheaval to achieve justice. He was also against the death penalty and was one of the few who spoke out against the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in It was an untimely end to a highly accomplished and remarkable career. Public Domain via Unsplash. Our Privacy Policy sets out how Oxford University Press handles your personal information, and your rights to object to your personal information being used for marketing to you or being processed as part of our business activities.

You were speaking of the Last Judgement. Allow me to laugh respectfully. I shall wait for it resolutely, for I have known what is worse, the judgement of men.

For them, no extenuating circumstances; even the good intention is ascribed to crime. Have you at least heard of the spitting cell, which a nation recently thought up to prove itself the greatest on earth? A walled-up box in which the prisoner can stand without moving. The solid door that locks him in the cement shell stops at chin level. Hence only his face is visible, and every passing jailer spits copiously on it. The prisoner, wedged into his cell, cannot wipe his face, though he is allowed, it is true. Well, that, mon cher, is a human invention.

Albert Camus and the problem of absurdity

They didn't need God for that little masterpiece. The rest of the time there is vanity or boredom. As it is not so easy as the detective novels might lead one to believe, one generally relies on politics and joins the cruelest party. What does it matter, after all, if by humiliating one's mind one succeeds in dominating every one? I discovered in myself sweet dreams of oppression. I like them because they always forgive. All those books barely read, those friends barely loved, those cities barely visited, those women barely possessed! I went through the gestures out of boredom or absent-mindedness.

Albert Camus and the problem of absurdity | OUPblog

Then came human beings; they wanted to cling, but there was nothing to cling to, and that was unfortunate--for them. As for me, I forgot. I never remembered anything but myself. They are They always think one commits suicide for a reason. But it's quite possible to commit suicide for two reasons. No, that never occurs to them. So what's the good of dying intentionally, of sacrificing yourself to the idea you want people to have of you? Once you are dead, they will take advantage of it to attribute idiotic or vulgar motives to your action.

Martyrs, cher ami, must choose between being forgotten, mocked, or made use of. As for being understood--never! He fornicated and read the papers.


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After that vigorous definition, the subject will be, if I may say so, exhausted. A liking for the truth at all costs is a passion that spares nothing and that nothing can withstand. I, I, I is the refrain of my whole life, which could be heard in everything I said. I could never talk without boasting, especially if I did so with that shattering discretion that was my specialty. It is quite true that I always lived free and powerful. I simply felt released in the regard to all the for the excellent reason that I recognized no equals.

Even in the fields in which it was easy for me to verify my inferiority—like tennis, for instance, in which I was but a passable partner—it was hard for me not to think that, with a little time and practice, I would surpass the best players. I admitted only superiorities in me and this explained my good will and serenity.

Double Take dance (English)

When I was concerned with others, I was so out of pure condescension, in utter freedom, and all the credit went to me: my self-esteem would go up a degree. Suppose, dear sir, someone actually took our word for it? It would have to be fulfilled.

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