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Bound to be in the wrong

Jonathan Rée: Camus and Sartre, 20 January 2005

Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It 
by Ronald Aronson.
Chicago, 291 pp., £23, February 2005, 0 226 02796 1
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... The heroes of Albert Camus’s books can be quite annoying: surly, self-dramatising Hamlets who like to think of themselves as strong, silent loners, wise to human folly. But although they are often arrogant, self-absorbed and predictable, they are also susceptible to the weather, and happy to be upstaged by unseasonable storms, torpid nights, fierce sunlight, or the chance of a swim in the limpid sea ...

Pointing the Finger

Jacqueline Rose: ‘The Plague’, 7 May 2020

... since​ the arrival of Covid-19 – in Western Europe, roughly at the end of January – sales of Albert Camus’s The Plague, first published in 1947, have increased exponentially, an upsurge strangely in line with the graphs that daily chart the toll of the sick and the dead. By the end of March, monthly sales of the UK Penguin Classics edition had ...

The Game of Death

A.D. Nuttall, 11 June 1992

... Dionysus was the Crucified.’ To adopt the words of another prophet of the modern European mind, Albert Camus, Nietzsche finds the only Christ we deserve. Nietzsche, whose god, you will recall, died, needed a special resurrection; he needed, so to speak, a Christ with an altered physiognomy: And what rough beast, its hour come round ...

The Adulteress Wife

Toril Moi: Beauvoir Misrepresented, 11 February 2010

The Second Sex 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Constance Borde, translated by Sheila Malovany-Chevallier.
Cape, 822 pp., £30, November 2009, 978 0 224 07859 7
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... me of my frigidity or to satisfy my ghoulish appetites.’ The Vatican put the book on the Index; Albert Camus accused her of having made the French male look ridiculous. When The Second Sex was published in the US in the spring of 1953, it leaped onto the the bestseller lists. It has sold well ever since. In the 1950s, it was the only book women who ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 18 June 2014

... family on an outing to Tipasa, whose Roman ruins by the Mediterranean were so beloved of the young Albert Camus. Among the stones and trees near the sea’s edge, in the warm salt light, was a memorial stone with an inscription quoting the writer: ‘Je comprends ici ce qu’on appelle gloire, le droit d’aimer sans mesure.’ ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... school, I was only ten, my most vivid memory of that time not any examination but that my friend Albert Benson, who was regularly top of the class, wasn’t going on to the high school because he would have to go out to work at the earliest opportunity. Ironically, of those taking part the one whose experience is closest to mine is Kenneth Clarke. Like me he ...

Yossarian rides again

Michael Wood, 20 October 1994

Closing Time 
by Joseph Heller.
Simon and Schuster, 464 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 671 71907 6
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... a lie, as the world was for Wilfred Owen, and not a new-found absurdity as it was for Sartre and Camus. It is a place where lying and absurdity are the plausible norm and manage to sound, to all but the most satirical minds, like truth and reason. They sound like honour and service and sacrifice and virtue, monuments of logic, and even cashing in is ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... all in old movies, these reluctant action heroes became perfect modern exemplars for the likes of Camus, who saw in them a stoic refusal to be held back by the status quo. Men who behaved as if there was a point in trying to right wrongs, even if they knew the world better than that. Mostly, in the early 1960s, we sat passively in the dark, in oversized black ...

Soul Bellow

Craig Raine, 12 November 1987

More die of heartbreak 
by Saul Bellow.
Alison Press/Secker, 335 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 436 03962 1
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... poetry was the material of my own life.’ Athol Fugard has acknowledged a similar debt to Camus. After apprentice work which struggled to accommodate South African material in the dramatic forms supplied by Tennessee Williams, Clifford Odets, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, Fugard found what he needed in ...

The Cruiser

Christopher Hitchens, 22 February 1996

On the Eve of the Millennium: The Future of Democracy through an Age of Unreason 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Free Press, 168 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 02 874094 7
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... Nietzsche. Quoting himself from an earlier incarnation, he writes in a synthesis of the worst of Camus and the worst of Sartre: The advanced world may well be like, and feel like, a closed and guarded palace, in a city gripped by the plague. There is another metaphor, developed by André Gide, one of the many powerful minds powerfully influenced by ...

Where Life Is Seized

Adam Shatz: Frantz Fanon’s Revolution, 19 January 2017

Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté 
by Frantz Fanon, edited by Robert Young and Jean Khalfa.
La Découverte, 688 pp., £22, October 2015, 978 2 7071 8638 6
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... by Merleau-Ponty, whose lectures he attended; gripped by the engagé theatre of Sartre and Camus, and the novels of Richard Wright and Chester Himes. He was also reading Jaspers, Nietzsche, Hegel, Bergson, Bachelard and Lacan – the ‘logician of madness’, he called him, partly in jest. He dreaded the ‘larval, stocky, obsolete life that awaits me ...

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