Albert Camus Biography

Albert Camus Biography

Only in an Albert Camus work could someone shoot and kill another person because the sun is too bright. That action is one of the central plot points of his most famous book, The Stranger. The cryptic, elliptically written text has spurred a variety of interpretations by scholars—a fitting response because the author himself was so difficult to define. Albert Camus, like Samuel Beckett, is often associated with existentialism and the absurd, but his rise to prominence mirrored that of deeply political writers like Federico Garcia Lorca. What made Camus’ brand of existential and absurdist commentary unique, however, was its connection to antitotalitarian sentiments. Throughout his prolific career (which was cut short by his death in an auto accident), Camus remained as committed to political change as he was to writing.

Facts and Trivia

  • Camus is nearly always associated with existentialism, yet he rejected the label in attempt to differentiate himself from the philosopher and writer Jean Paul Sartre.
  • Despite being both a pacifist and a communist, Camus served in the French Resistance during World War II.
  • Camus was a pied-noir (“black foot”), a term for a person of European descent living in Algeria. The uneasy French-Algerian relations greatly affected both Camus’ politics and his novel The Stranger.
  • Camus’ A Happy Death features a character with the same name, Meursault, as the protagonist of The Stranger. Scholars continue to wonder whether or not the two characters and stories are connected.
  • Camus’ most famous novel is usually translated into English as The Stranger; however, in the rest of the world it is more commonly called The Foreigner or The Outsider. The ambiguity of the original title has caused endless debate as to whether it refers to the disaffected title character or the Arab man he kills.
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