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Losing the Light

Michael Wood: Memories of Camus

19 August 2010
L’Eté 
by Albert Camus.
Gallimard, 192 pp., €18.50, February 2010, 978 2 07 012927 0
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Albert CamusSolitaire et Solidaire 
by Catherine Camus.
Lafon, 208 pp., £39.90, December 2009, 978 2 7499 1087 1
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Albert CamusElements of a Life 
by Robert Zaretsky.
Cornell, 200 pp., £16.50, March 2010, 978 0 8014 4805 8
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Albert CamusFils d’Alger 
by Alain Vircondelet.
Fayard, 396 pp., €19.90, January 2010, 978 2 213 63844 7
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... The last piece in L’Eté, a collection of Camus’s essays first published in 1954, ends on a characteristic note of risk and grandeur: ‘I have always had the impression of living on the high seas, threatened, at the heart of a royal happiness ...

Something Royal

John Sturrock

8 September 1994
Le Premier homme 
by Albert Camus.
Gallimard, 331 pp., frs 110, April 1994, 2 07 073827 2
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... It is all but thirty-five years since Albert Camus was killed, when the Facel Vega sports car in which he was a passenger went off the road between Sens and Paris. Among his things was found Le Premier homme, the manuscript he had been working on for ...

At the Crime Scene

Adam Shatz: Robbe-Grillet’s Bad Thoughts

30 July 2014
A Sentimental Novel 
by Alain Robbe-Grillet, translated by D.E. Brooke.
Dalkey Archive, 142 pp., £9.50, April 2014, 978 1 62897 006 7
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... clinging to the fables of reason, historical progress and, worst of all, humanism. Sartre still thought the world meant something, and that it was the job of the writer to reveal its meaning; so did Camus, the philosopher of the absurd. ‘The world is neither significant nor absurd. It is, quite simply,’ Robbe-Grillet wrote in a passage with Heideggerian undertones. ‘That, in any case, is the ...

On holiday

Amit Chaudhuri

21 July 1994
The Harafish 
by Naguib Mahfouz, translated by Catherine​ Cobham.
Doubleday, 406 pp., £15.99, June 1994, 0 385 40362 3
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... About the Author’, admits as much in a bland, unrevealing way: ‘A student of philosophy and an avid reader, he has been influenced by many Western writers, including Flaubert, Balzac, Zola, Camus, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and, above all, Proust.’ A quote on the jacket from Edward Said, writing for the London Review of Books, says: ‘He is not only a Hugo and a Dickens, but also a Galsworthy, a ...

Raging towards Utopia

Neal Ascherson: Koestler

22 April 2010
Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual 
by Michael Scammell.
Faber, 689 pp., £25, February 2010, 978 0 571 13853 1
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... Watched from a safe distance, Arthur Koestler’s life was like a Catherine-wheel breaking free from its stake. Leaping and spinning and scattering crowds, emitting fountains of alarming flares and sparks as it bounded in and out of public squares and unexpected back gardens ...

Mon Charabia

Olivier Todd: Bad Duras

4 March 1999
Marguerite Duras 
by Laure Adler.
Gallimard, 627 pp., frs 155, August 1998, 2 07 074523 6
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No More 
by Marguerite Duras.
Seven Stories, 203 pp., £10.99, November 1998, 1 888363 65 7
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... of her adolescence was her encounter with ‘the Chinaman’ in 1929. She was 15. He became her very rich and much older lover, and later cropped up in at least two pieces of fiction and a film with Catherine Deneuve. As Adler puts it, ‘Marguerite was on sale’ to Leo the Chinaman; in French it sounds better: ‘Marguerite était à vendre.’ The girl was her mother’s property. (Years later, Duras ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica

20 March 2003
Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine​ Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... reappraisal of previous enthusiasm for the cause of anti-imperialism. How else to explain the astonishing reversal of Conor Cruise O’Brien, who wrote the first really devastating critique of Camus as an accomplice of French colonialism in Algeria, and then a few years later enlisted as a defender of Menachem Begin’s Israel, Ulster Unionism and South African apartheid? Gérard Chaliand ...

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