Albert Camus in the 21st century : a reassessment of his by Mark Orme, Lissa Lincoln, Christine Margerrison

By Mark Orme, Lissa Lincoln, Christine Margerrison

Within the first decade of a brand new century, this choice of bilingual essays examines Camus's carrying on with recognition for a brand new iteration of readers. In an important respects, the area Camus knew has replaced past all acceptance: decolonization, the autumn of the Iron Curtain, a brand new period of globalization and the increase of recent varieties of terrorism have all provoked a reconsideration of Camus's writings. If the Absurd as soon as struck a specific chord, Meursault is as most probably now to be obvious as a colonial determine who expresses the alienation of the settler from the land of his beginning. but this expanding orthodoxy also needs to take account of the explanations why a brand new neighborhood of Algerian readers have embraced Camus. both, as soon as remoted due to his anti-Communist stance, Camus has been taken up by means of disaffected contributors of the Left, confident that new types of totalitarianism are out of the country on the planet. This quantity, which levels from interpretations of Camus's literary works, his journalism and his political writings, might be of curiosity to all these looking to reconsider Camus's paintings within the gentle of moral and political matters which are of constant relevance this present day

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By page 79, recourse thereto is said to have failed: “il fallait remonter dans le temps à travers une mémoire enténébrée, rien n’était sûr (…) il fallait renoncer à apprendre quelque chose d’elle”. The failure is that of family memory itself, as the narrator later acknowledges when it is said to encompass both mother and uncle: (T)els qu’ils étaient tous deux autour de lui, silencieux et tassés sur eux-mêmes, vides de souvenirs et fidèles seulement à quelques images obscures (…) il ne saurait jamais d’eux qui était son père et, quand bien même, par leur seule présence, ils rouvraient en lui des sources fraîches venues d’une enfance misérable et heureuse, il n’était pas sûr que ces souvenirs si riches, si jaillissants en lui, fussent vraiment fidèles à l’enfant qu’il avait été.

4 It is, therefore, primarily to set the record straight that Camus undertook this “défense et illustration” of colonial Algeria, calling on a revised view of the past to ward off a present threat and justify a continued presence. The past, in other words, is invoked to legitimize the future. But as Paul Ricoeur’s La Mémoire, l’histoire, l’oubli5 has shown, selective forgetting is a necessary condition for memory, and Le Premier Homme invokes a highly selective past, of European suffering, sacrifice and poverty (all too often ignored by the metropole), interpreted as ground for an idealized future, of intercommunity solidarity and fraternity.

Bloom accepterait plus volontiers, me semble-t-il, la formule camusienne selon laquelle les hommes engagés sont à préférer à la littérature engagée. Dans la liste des écrivains qu’il situe dans le canon, Sartre et Camus ont d’ailleurs leur place. Ils appartiennent à ce que Bloom considère comme l’âge chaotique du canon, après les âges théocratique, aristocratique et démocratique. Jusqu’ici j’ai donc évoqué brièvement trois théories qui entendent rendre compte de la longévité des œuvres littéraires, les théories de Marx, de Bloch et de Bloom.

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