Albert Camus’ Literary CareerJune 26, 2021
Camus joined the French Resistance against the Nazis during the Second World War and started publishing a newspaper called “Combat” as part of this resistance. He became editor of the newspaper in 1943; but left in 1947 when “Combat” became a commercial paper. It was here that he met Jean-Paul Sartre.
After the war, he began visiting the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, where people like Sartre and de Beauvoir met. During these years, he also toured America, giving lectures on French existentialism. Although he was politically inclined to the left, his opposition to communism did not gain him friends in the communist parties, but also distanced him from Sartre.
Camus retired for two years in 1949 due to relapse of tuberculosis and published “The Man Who Revolted”. This book was not well received by many of his left-wing friends in France, and Sartre in particular, and he parted ways with Sartre altogether. The unsavory reviews of his book pushed Camus from writing books to turning plays.
Camus devoted himself to human rights in the 1950s. In 1952, when the United Nations accepted Spain under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship as a member, he stopped his work at UNESCO and left the institution. He criticized Soviet methods that used an inhuman harshness in the uprisings. Remaining pacifist, Camus continued his fight against the death penalty.
When the Algerian War of Independence began in 1954, Camus found himself in a moral dilemma. This was because it was “black foot”, an adjective used to describe Algerian-born French. However, in the end, he was defending the French government in the war. He thought that the revolt that started in North Africa was actually the work of neo-Arab imperialism led by Egypt and the Soviet Union attacking the west. He advocated for Algeria to be autonomous, even a federation; but it did not support its full independence. On the other hand, he thought that Arabs and “black feet” could live together. He secretly worked to save Algerians sentenced to death during this crisis.
Camus wrote in the French magazine “L’Express” in 1955 and 1956. Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. The general approach is that this award is not given for “The Decline” published the previous year, but for the article “Réflexions Sur la Guillotine” written against capital punishment. During a speech at Stockholm University, he defended his inaction on Algeria; but she later said she was worried about what would happen to her mother, who lived in Algeria. This contradictory situation was met with reaction from French left intellectuals.
Camus died on January 4, 1960, in a car accident at a place called “Le Grand Fossard” in the small town of Villeblevin near Sens. Later, a train ticket was found in the pocket of his coat. Most likely, Camus had planned to take the train to his destination; but he preferred to return by car with his friend. Ironically, when Camus was asked earlier what the most absurd way to die was, he described dying in a car crash as one of them. The driver and publisher friend of the Facel Vega car, where the accident took place, died together with Camus. Camus is buried in Lourmarin Cemetery, Lourmarin, Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
After Camus’ death, the copyrights were transferred to Camus’ children, Catherine and Jean Camus. After his death, “Happy Death” was published in 1970 and “The First Man”, which was still unfinished when he died in 1995.