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Rebel with a Cause

Albert Camus and the Politics of Celebrity
  • Derek Parker Royal

Abstract

albert camus opens his foundational essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, with a challenging and now-famous dictum: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”1 Almost twenty years after the publication of these words, the author died in a car accident, a death that resulted not from any nihilistic purpose of his own hand but from a fateful combination of uncertain road conditions and questionable automotive circumstances. As the above quotation suggests, death was a thematic cornerstone of Camus’s writings, and he spent most of his literary life articulating a moral philosophy surrounding this inevitability. Indeed, his writings, as well as his life, have gained meaning largely within the context of his death.

Keywords

Political Moderation American Readership French Writer Moral Absolutism Democratic Center 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, trans. Justin O’Brien (New York: Vintage, 1955), 3.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, “Albert Camus,” Situations, trans. Benita Eisler (New York: George Brazillier, 1965), 111–112.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The following account of Camus’s death is taken from Lottman’s seminal biography. See Herbert R. Lottman, Albert Camus (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1979).Google Scholar
  4. See also Patrick McCarthy’s Camus (New York: Random House, 1982).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    For a fascinating study on the cultural appropriation of Orwell, see John Rodden, The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of “St. George” Orwell (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Donald Lazere, The Unique Creation of Albert Camus (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1973), 236–237.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Albert Camus, The Rebel, trans. Anthony Bower (New York: Vintage, 1956).Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Norman Podheretz, The Bloody Crossroads—Where Literature and Politics Meet (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986), 12.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Conor Cruise O’Brien, Albert Camus of Europe and Africa (New York: Viking, 1970), 75.Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Conor Cruise O’Brien, Passion and Cunning: Essays on Nationalism, Terrorism and Revolution (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 250.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    Germaine Brée, Camus (New York: Harbinger, 1964), 28.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    William Barrett, Time of Need: Forms of Imagination in the Twentieth Century (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 50.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    Michael Harrington, The Accidental Century (New York: Macmillan, 1965), 167 and 169.Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    See, for instance, Robert Greer Cohn, “Sartre-Camus Resartus,” Yale French Studies 30, University Press of New Haven, 1963 (reprint, Kraus: New York, 1962);Google Scholar
  15. Bernard Murchland, “Sartre and Camus: The Anatomy of a Quarrel,” in Choice of Action: The French Existentialists on the Political Front Line, trans. Michel-Antoine Burnier (New York: Random House, 1968), 175–194;Google Scholar
  16. Germaine Brée, Camus and Sartre: Crisis and Commitment (New York: Delta-Dell, 1972);Google Scholar
  17. and Donald Lazere, “American Criticism of the Sartre-Camus Debate: A Chapter in the Cold War,” in Arthur Schilpp, ed., The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre (LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1981). Brée’s is perhaps the most extensive study of the intellectual and political differences behind Camus and Sartre. Lazere’s, on the other hand, is the most revealing account of the Cold Warriors’ use of the debate.Google Scholar
  18. 23.
    Germaine Brée, “Introduction,” in Germaine Breé, ed., A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962), 2.Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    Emmett Parker clearly illustrates that “Neither Victim nor Executioner,” not The Rebel, was the first of Camus’s works to draw serious ideological reaction. See Emmett Parker, Albert Camus: The Artist in the Arena (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, “Reply to Camus,” Situations, trans. Benita Eisler (New York: George Braziller, 1965), 71.Google Scholar
  21. 41.
    Albert Camus, State of Siege. Caligula and Three Other Plays, trans. Stuart Gilbert (New York: Vintage, 1958), 205.Google Scholar
  22. 42.
    Albert Camus, The Plague, trans. Stuart Gilbert (New York: Modern Library, 1948), 197.Google Scholar
  23. 47.
    Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, trans. Peter Preuss (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing, 1980), 48.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mikita Brottman 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Parker Royal

There are no affiliations available

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