Albert Camus is the author of La Peste published in 1947, which had a particular echo during the Covid 19 crisis…
Attracted by journalism
Born in 1913 at the dawn of the First World War, the young Albert lost his father during the conflict. This tragedy marked him for life, instilling in him a deep disgust for the absurdity of war. He grew up in a working class and poor environment where he was introduced to literature by one of his uncles. After obtaining his baccalaureate in 1932 in Algiers, he began studying philosophy. At 17, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis against which he would fight all his life. Attracted by the adventure of journalism, he worked at « Alger Républicain » and « Soir Républicain » where his articles brought him to notice. In particular the series of reports « Misère de la Kabylie » published in 1939, a model of investigative journalism, in which he denounced the inhuman living conditions of the Kabyle population. His pacifism, his denunciations of fascism are disturbing. He must leave Algeria for Paris.
the only one to be indignant at this nuclear atrocity
Thanks to his friend and mentor Pascal Pia, Albert Camus became editorial secretary at « Paris-Soir« . Decisive encounters followed which led him to become a reader for Gallimard editions. In 1942, he published L’Étranger, « the » novel which was ranked at the top of the hundred best books of the 20th century in 1999. Shortly after, in the fall of 1943, he joined the daily « Combat« , a unique newspaper in the history of the press in France, organ of the Resistance. In hiding, at the risk of his life, he became editor-in-chief and columnist from 1944 to 1947, embodying the voice of the Resistance on the democratic reforms to be undertaken. Relentlessly denouncing barbarism in all its forms, on August 8, 1945 when the first atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima, Albert Camus was the only Western journalist to be indignant at this nuclear atrocity…
La Peste : his masterpiece
In 1947, Albert Camus published La Peste, which immediately enjoyed national and international success. The narrator recounts the daily life of the population of Oran in French Algeria, who are facing a terrible plague epidemic. The novel is the third greatest success of Gallimard editions, behind The Little Prince and The Stranger. In addition to an irreproachable style faithful to the talent of the French writer, we discover an incisive and realistic story, which has had a particular echo since the start of the coronavirus. Sales of the masterpiece exploded as soon as many governments decided to confine their population, and after having finished reading The Plague, one can only see its relevance. This book stands out as essential reading in a world that understands a little better the experience of Rieux, Tarrou, Grand and even Rambert in this fiction.
A Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957
After the war, he wrote for the theater and observed the first shocks of decolonization. For Algeria, his position is clear, he refutes the use of violence, in any camp whatsoever. Distrustful of ideologies, he is repelled by any idea of definitive revolution and underlines the risks of deviation. Visionary Camus ? Probably. In his famous polemic with Jean-Paul Sartre about the existence of the gulags in the Soviet Union, He accurately predicts the evils that Stalinism engenders. On October 16, 1957, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He went to live in Lourmarin where the light and the landscapes reminded him of his native land. A year later, on January 2, 1960, aged 47, he died in a car accident which also cost the life of the driver, Michel Gallimard, nephew of the publisher Gaston Gallimard. He is buried in Lourmarin. The unity, the strength, his empathy with regard to the oppressed, his denunciation of suffering, his will to understand and, ultimately, his desire for freedom can only move us and invite us to reflect, at a time when exacerbated nationalisms and shortcuts of thought are at work.