1957 : Albert Camus

1957 : Albert Camus

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“for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”



November 7, 1913

Place of birth


Mondovi, Algeria



January 4, 1960

Place of death


Villeblevin, France




Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1957


Born of a modest family of French settlers (pieds-noirs) dedicated to the cultivation of cashew in the department of Constantine. His mother, Catherine Sintes was Minorcan; illiterate and with hearing problems. His father, Lucien Camus was working on a wine farm near Mondovi, for a wine merchant Algiers, and was of Alsatian origin as many other pieds-noirs who fled after the annexation of Alsace by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War . Mobilized during the First World War, was wounded in combat during the Battle of the Marne and died in hospital of Saint-Brieuc on October 17, 1914. Done that facilitates the transfer of the family to Algiers home of his maternal grandmother. From his parents, Albert did not know more than a photograph and a meaningful story: brought his disgust at the spectacle of an execution capital. Located in Algiers, Camus conducted their studies there, encouraged by their teachers, especially Louis Germain at school, who saved a marked appreciation to the point of dedicating his speech of the Nobel Prize, and Jean Grenier also at the institute, who introduces in the knowledge of Nietzsche.He began writing at an early age: his first texts were published in the journal Sud in 1932. After obtaining high school diploma get a higher education in letters, in the section of philosophy. TB prevents him from taking part in the call for aggregation. In 1935 he began to write The setback and the law that was published two years later. In Algiers founded the Teatro Labor in 1937 replaced by El Teatro del Equipo.En Albert abandons those years by disagreements, such as the Covenant germanosovietico and its support for the autonomy of the PC’s PC French in Algeria, the Communist Party. Come to work in the Journal of the Popular Front, created by Pascal Pia: The misery of its investigation the Kabylie have a resounding impact. In 1940 the Government of Algeria bans the publication of the newspaper and manages to Camus no longer find work. Camus moved to Paris and then worked as a secretary editorial in the newspaper Paris-Soir. In 1943 reader is for Gallimard, a major publishing house in Paris, and takes the leadership of Combat when Pascal Pia is called to fill other roles in the Resistance against the Germans. The anarchist Andre Prudhommeaux it first introduced the libertarian movement at a meeting in 1948 of the Circle of Students Anarchists, as a sympathizer who was already familiar with the thinking anarchist. Camus went on to write for publications anarchists, being columnist for Le Libertaire (immediate precursor of Le Monde Libertaire), Le revolution proletarienne Labor and Solidarity (the CNT). Camus also with the anarchists, where he expressed support for the revolt of 1953 in East Germany. He was supporting the anarchists in 1956, first with the uprising of workers in Poznan, Poland, and then later in the Hungarian Revolution. He was a member of the Federation Anarchiste. His break with Jean-Paul Sartre takes place in 1952 after the publication in Les Temps Modernes article that he instructed Francis Jeanson, where he reproached Camus that their rebellion was “deliberately aesthetics.” In 1956, in Algiers, launches its “Call to civilian truce”, while throwing out were shouting death threats. There are schools of thought contend that this break that never actually took place. The confusion between the letters sent to Sartre in the decade from 1932 to 1954 was the indicator of Camus denied that its influence achacandola of ‘intentionally misleading’. Future investigations cast doubt on the real authorship of these letters. Beyond the philosophical, Camus developed a reflection on the human condition. Rejecting the formulation of an act of faith in God, in history or in reason, he opposed both to Christianity, Marxism and existentialism. Did not fail to fight against all ideologies and abstractions that the man away from the human. What defines the philosophy of the absurd, in addition to having been a convinced anarchist, dedicating an important part of his book “The Rebel” to expose, challenge and philosophize about their own political and prove the destructive ideology to propose an end to history. Camus died on January 4, 1960, in a car accident near Le Petit-Villeblevin, which for many is an ironic death because he, days before his accident had said “I do not know of anything more stupid to die in a car accident. ” Among the papers that he had found an unfinished manuscript, The first man, a strong autobiographical content and great beauty. He was buried in Lourmarin, a village in southern France where he had bought a house. Camus, with his humanistic work is a niche in the memory of generations of men, and certainly the future we will reserve a place in history for his contributions to literature and politics of the twentieth century.


Works in French:

  • L’envers et l’endroit – Alger : Charlot, 1937

  • Noces – Alger : Charlot, 1939

  • L’etranger – Paris : Gallimard, 1942

  • Le mythe de Sisyphe – Paris : Gallimard, 1942

  • Le malentendu ; Caligula – Paris : Gallimard, 1944

  • Lettres a un ami allemand – Paris : Gallimard, 1945

  • La peste – Paris : Gallimard, 1947

  • L’etat de siege – Paris : Gallimard, 1948

  • Actuelles : chroniques 1944-1948 – Paris : Gallimard, 1950

  • Les justes : pieces en cinq actes – Paris : Gallimard, 1950

  • L’homme revolte – Paris : Gallimard, 1951

  • Actuelles II : Chroniques 1948-1953 – Paris : Gallimard, 1953

  • L’ete – Paris : Gallimard, 1954

  • La chute – Paris : Gallimard, 1956

  • L’exil et le royaume – Paris : Paris : Gallimard, 1957

  • Actuelles III : Chronique algerienne 1939-1958 – Paris : Paris : Gallimard, 1958

  • Discours de Suede – Paris : Paris : Gallimard, 1958

  • Les possedes : piece en trois parties adaptee du roman de Dostoievski – Paris : Paris : Gallimard, 1959

  • Carnets, mai 1935 – fevrier 1942 – Paris : Gallimard, 1962

  • Carnets, janvier 1942 – mars 1951 – Paris : Gallimard, 1964

  • Essais – Paris : Gallimard, 1965

  • La mort heureuse – Paris : Gallimard, 1971

  • Ecrits de jeunesse // Viallaneix, Paul, Le premier Camus suivi de Ecrits de jeunesse d’Albert Camus – Paris : Gallimard, 1973

  • Journaux de voyage / texte etabli, presente et annote par Roger Quilliot – Paris : Gallimard, 1978

  • Caligula / texte etabli d’apres la dactylographie de fevrier 1941 par A. James Arnold, suivi de La poetique du premier Caligula par A. James Arnold – Paris : Gallimard, 1984

  • Le Premier homme – Paris : Gallimard, 1994

  • Correspondance : 1932-1960 / Albert Camus, Jean Grenier ; avertissement et notes par Marguerite Dobrenn – Paris : Gallimard, 1994

  • Correspondance : 1939-1947 / Albert Camus, Pascal Pia ; presentee et annot. par Yves Marc Ajchenbaum – Paris : Fayard, 2000

Works in English:

  • The Outsider / translated by Stuart Gilbert – London : Hamilton, 1946

  • Caligula and Cross Purpose / translated by Stuart Gilbert – New York : New Directions, 1947

  • The Plague / translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert – New York : Knopf, 1948

  • The Rebel / translated from the French by Anthony Bower – London: Hamilton, 1953

  • The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays / translated by Justin O’Brien – London: Hamilton, 1955

  • The Fall / translated from the French by Justin O’Brien – New York : Knopf, 1957

  • Caligula and Three Other Plays / translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert – New York : Knopf, 1958

  • Exile and the Kingdom / translated from the French by Justin O’Brien – New York : Knopf, 1958

  • Speech of Acceptance upon the Award of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Delivered in Stockholm on the Tenth of December, Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-seven / translated by Justin O’Brien – New York : Knopf, 1958

  • The Possessed : a Play in Three parts / translated from the French by Justin O’Brien – New York : Knopf, 1960

  • Caligula : a Drama in Two Acts / adapted from the French by Justin O’Brien – New York : S. French, 1961

  • Resistance, Rebellion and Death / Translated from the French and with an introd. by Justin O’Brien – New York : Knopf, 1961

  • Notebooks – Vol. 1: 1935-1942 / translated by Philip Thody – New York : Knopf, 1963

  • Notebooks – Vol. 2: 1942-1951 / translated by Justin O’Brien – New York : Knopf, 1965

  • Lyrical and Critical / selected and translated from the French by Philip Thody – London : Hamilton, 1967

  • Lyrical and Critical Essays / Edited and with notes by Philip Thody. Translated from the French by Ellen Conroy Kennedy – New York : Knopf, 1968

  • A Happy Death / translated from the French by Richard Howard – New York : Knopf, 1972

  • Youthful Writings / translated from the French by Ellen Conroy Kennedy – New York : Knopf, 1976

  • American Journals / translation by Hugh Levick – New York : Paragon, 1987

  • The Stranger / translated from the French by Matthew Ward – New York : Knopf, 1988

  • The First Man / translated from the French by David Hapgood – New York : Knopf, 1995

  • Summer / edited and translated by Philip Thody – London : Penguin, 1995

  • The Outsider / translated by Joseph Laredo ; introduction by Peter Dunwoodie – London : Campbell, 1998

  • The Plague / translated by Robin Buss – London : Allen Lane, 2001

Literature (a selection):

  • Sartre, Jean-Paul, Explication de l’Etranger – 1946

  • Luppe, Robert de, Albert Camus – Paris, 1951

  • Maquet, Albert, Albert Camus ou l’invincible ete : essai – Paris, 1956

  • Thody, Philip, Albert Camus : a Study of His Work – London : Hamilton, 1957

  • Cruickshank, John, Albert Camus and the Literature of Revolt – London : Oxford Univ Press, 1959

  • Bonnier, Henry, Albert Camus ou la force d’etre : essai – Lyon, 1959

  • Bree, Germaine, Camus – New Brunswick, 1959

  • Durand, Anne, Le cas Albert Camus : l’epoque camusienne – Paris, 1961

  • Camus : a Collection of Critical Essays / edited by Germaine Bree – Englewood Cliffs, N.J. : Prentice-Hall, 1962

  • King, Adele, Camus – Edinburgh : Oliver & Boyd, 1964

  • Thody, Philip, Albert Camus 1913-1960 – London : Hamilton, 1964

  • Nicolas, Andre, Albert Camus ou Le vrai Promethee – Paris : Seghers, 1966

  • Freeman, Edward, The Theatre of Albert Camus : a Critical Study – London : Methuen, 1971

  • Grenier, Roger, Albert Camus : soleil et ombre : une biographie intellectuelle – Paris : Gallimard, 1987

  • Todd, Olivier, Albert Camus : une vie. – Paris : Gallimard, 1996

  • Rondeau, Daniel, Camus ou les promesses de la vie. – Paris : Menges , 2005


1957: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Anders Osterling, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy.

French literature is no longer linked geographically to the frontiers of France in Europe. In many respects it reminds one of a garden plant, noble and irreplaceable, which when cultivated outside its territory still retains its distinctive character, although tradition and variation alternately influence it. The Nobel Laureate for this year, Albert Camus, is an example of this evolution. Born in a small town in eastern Algeria, he has returned to this North African milieu to find the source of all the determining influences that have marked his childhood and youth. Even today, the man Camus is aware of this great French overseas territory, and the writer in him is often pleased to recall this fact.

From a quasi-proletarian origin, Camus found it necessary to get ahead in life on his own; a poverty-stricken student, he worked at all sorts of jobs to meet his needs. It was an arduous schooling, but one which, in the diversity of its teaching, was certainly not useless to the realist he was to become. In the course of his years of study, which he spent at the University of Algiers, he belonged to a circle of intellectuals who later came to play an important role in the North African Resistance. His first books were published by a local publishing house in Algiers, but at the age of twenty-five he reached France as a journalist and soon came to make his reputation in the metropolis as a writer of the first rank, prematurely tempered by the harsh, feverish atmosphere of the war years.

Even in his first writings Camus reveals a spiritual attitude that was born of the sharp contradictions within him between the awareness of earthly life and the gripping consciousness of the reality of death. This is more than the typical Mediterranean fatalism whose origin is the certainty that the sunny splendour of the world is only a fugitive moment bound to be blotted out by the shades. Camus represents also the philosophical movement called Existentialism, which characterizes man’s situation in the universe by denying it all personal significance, seeing in it only absurdity. The term “absurd” occurs often in Camus’s writings, so that one may call it a leitmotif in his work, developed in all its logical moral consequences on the levels of freedom, responsibility, and the anguish that derives from it. The Greek myth of Sisyphus, who eternally rolls his rock to the mountain top from which it perpetually rolls down again, becomes, in one of Camus’s essays, a laconic symbol of human life. But Sisyphus, as Camus interprets him, is happy in the depth of his soul, for the attempt alone satisfies him. For Camus, the essential thing is no longer to know whether life is worth living but how one must live it, with the share of sufferings it entails.

This short presentation does not permit me to dwell longer on Camus’s always fascinating intellectual development. It is more worthwhile to refer to the works in which, using an art with complete classical purity of style and intense concentration, he has embodied these problems in such fashion that characters and action make his ideas live before us, without commentary by the author. This is what makes L’Etranger (The Stranger), 1942, famous. The main character, an employee of a government department, kills an Arab following a chain of absurd events; then, indifferent to his fate, he hears himself condemned to death. At the last moment, however, he pulls himself together and emerges from a passivity bordering on torpor. In La Peste (The Plague), 1947, a symbolic novel of greater scope, the main characters are Doctor Rieux and his assistant, who heroically combat the plague that has descended on a North African town. In its calm and exact objectivity, this convincingly realistic narrative reflects experiences of life during the Resistance, and Camus extols the revolt which the conquering evil arouses in the heart of the intensely resigned and disillusioned man.

Quite recently Camus has given us the very remarkable story-monologue, La Chute (The Fall), 1956, a work exhibiting the same mastery of the art of storytelling. A French lawyer, who examines his conscience in a sailors’ bar in Amsterdam, draws his own portrait, a mirror in which his contemporaries can equally recognize themselves. In these pages one can see Tartuffe shake hands with the Misanthrope in the name of that science of the human heart in which classical France excelled. The mordant irony, employed by an aggressive author obsessed with truth, becomes a weapon against universal hypocrisy. One may wonder, of course, where Camus is heading by his insistence on a Kierkegaardian sense of guilt whose bottomless abyss is omnipresent, for one always has the feeling that the author has reached a turning point in his development.

Personally Camus has moved far beyond nihilism. His serious, austere meditations on the duty of restoring without respite that which has been ravaged, and of making justice possible in an unjust world, rather make him a humanist who has not forgotten the worship of Greek proportion and beauty as they were once revealed to him in the dazzling summer light on the Mediterranean shore at Tipasa.

Active and highly creative, Camus is in the centre of interest in the literary world, even outside of France. Inspired by an authentic moral engagement, he devotes himself with all his being to the great fundamental questions of life, and certainly this aspiration corresponds to the idealistic end for which the Nobel Prize was established. Behind his incessant affirmation of the absurdity of the human condition is no sterile negativism. This view of things is supplemented in him by a powerful imperative, a nevertheless, an appeal to the will which incites to revolt against absurdity and which, for that reason, creates a value.


The Plague

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