Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a
representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin
in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were
dominating influences in his thought and work. Of
semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles
of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in
philosophy (only chance prevented him from pursuing a university
career in that field), he came to France at the age of
twenty-five. The man and the times met: Camus joined the
resistance movement during the occupation and after the
liberation was a columnist for the newspaper Combat. But
his journalistic activities had been chiefly a response to the
demands of the time; in 1947 Camus retired from political
journalism and, besides writing his fiction and essays, was very
active in the theatre as producer and playwright (e.g.,
Caligula, 1944). He also adapted plays by Calderon, Lope de
Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun. His
love for the theatre may be traced back to his membership in
L'Equipe, an Algerian theatre group, whose "collective creation"
Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for
The essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), 1942, expounds Camus's notion of the absurd and of its acceptance with "the total absence of hope, which has nothing to do with despair, a continual refusal, which must not be confused with renouncement - and a conscious dissatisfaction". Meursault, central character of L'Étranger (The Stranger), 1942, illustrates much of this essay: man as the nauseated victim of the absurd orthodoxy of habit, later - when the young killer faces execution - tempted by despair, hope, and salvation. Dr. Rieux of La Peste (The Plague), 1947, who tirelessly attends the plague-stricken citizens of Oran, enacts the revolt against a world of the absurd and of injustice, and confirms Camus's words: "We refuse to despair of mankind. Without having the unreasonable ambition to save men, we still want to serve them". Other well-known works of Camus are La Chute (The Fall), 1956, and L'Exil et le royaume (Exile and the Kingdom), 1957. His austere search for moral order found its aesthetic correlative in the classicism of his art. He was a stylist of great purity and intense concentration and rationality.
From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
Albert Camus died on January 4, 1960.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1957