Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a well-known French writer and philosopher who greatly influenced Styron’s writing and thinking about the human condition. Camus ran a theater company during the 1930s and was a leading voice of the French Resistance. His books include The Plague, The Fall, The Rebel, and A Happy Death. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. Styron writes that Camus’ novel The Stranger influenced his approach to The Confessions of Nat Turner, Styron’s psychological portrait of an American slave. Styron also mentions Camus’ book, The Myth of Sisyphus, saying that it gave him great courage to continue in the face of his own struggles. Styron sums up the book’s message: ‘‘In the absence of hope, we must struggle to survive—by the skin of our teeth.’’ Romain Gary had planned to arrange a dinner to introduce Styron to Camus, but Camus died in an automobile accident before that could happen.
Simone del Duca
Simone del Duca is the wife of Cino del Duca, a wealthy Italian immigrant, after whom the Prix Mondial Cino del Duca is named. Styron describes her as ‘‘a large dark-haired woman of queenly manner.’’ She is at the center of Styron’s emotional breakdown while the writer is in Paris to receive the Prix Mondial Cino del Duca. His state of mind deteriorating at the time, Styron refused, then accepted, to appear at a...
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