Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Just a couple of days ago, I remarked that it was time for another look at Camus. The next day, a full page in El Pais headlined, 'Will 2010 be the year of Camus?' Well, merde alors, as they say. The writer, one Jean Daniel, founder of the Nouvelle Observateur, a fearfully intellectual frog mag, believes that, 'More than ever, our world needs the lucid discipline, the abomination of the absolute, the cultivation of doubt and the restrained heroism that characterised the author of 'The first man.' And he may be right.
Much of the Camus fever is due to it being the fiftieth anniversary of his untimely death in a car crash aged 47. As youngsters, we took a keen interest in French culture - called ourselves existentialists and wore black roll-neck sweaters, listened to Juliette Greco records, watched Goddard and Truffault films and pretended to read Being and Nothingness and agreed that life was absurd. In my dotage, I realise we were right to do those things at that time. Not all that bad to do some of them now, especially the last.
Apart from Sartre, (whose novels I liked) I found reading Camus a more rewarding experience, and learned much of value from The Stranger, The Rebel and The Plague. Camus himself denied being an existentialist, claiming to be a simple pagan. When I look at the effects of organised religion today, a bit more paganism might be a blessing.

Camus has some good quotes

Don't wait for the last judgement, it take place every day.

Freedom is nothing more than a chance to be better.

In order to understand the world, one must turn away from it on occasion.

It is normal to give away a little of one's life in order not to lose it all.

1 comment:

Gary White said...

Thanks, Paddy. The first intelligent thing I've read on the internet today! I, too, read those books and considered myself an existentialist in my youth. We weren't too far off, were we?