Albert Camus Short Fiction Analysis
Albert Camus published a single collection of short stories entitled Exile and the Kingdom near the end of his life. Its six stories are an important encapsulation of Camus’s humanistic philosophy enveloped in his quasirealistic style and dramatized by exotic backgrounds. According to Camus’s recondite views, the universe is meaningless; however, the human beings in it may become significant (even happy) if they can acquire and maintain a clear awareness of its ultimate absurdity. Each story in Exile and the Kingdom unfolds a situation which brings the protagonist to an intimation of the lack of lawfulness and coherence in his or her life and depicts the protagonist’s response to this traumatic realization. Some of the stories go no further than this; others move away from understatement and describe wrong-headed or perverse reactions; and the last story offers a solution which seems to step beyond mere awareness of absurdity.
Readers of Camus’s novels and plays will recognize the cavalcade of alienated heroes, the metaphysical paradoxes, and Camus’s own preoccupation with criminals and their police counterparts—all tendered in lucid, tight prose which differentiates him from the strained cerebralisms of more philosophically rigorous existentialists such as Sartre. This collection of short stories also avoids the imperious eloquence and plain sententiousness which often mar Camus’s longer works.
(The entire section is 1981 words.)
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