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Albert Camus' Critique of Modernity

Ronald D. Srigley

Publication Year: 2011

 

Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus’ contributions to political and cultural analysis make him one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. Camus’ writing has been heavily researched and analyzed in academia, with many scholars concentrating on the formal tri-part structure he adhered to in his later work: the cycle that divided his books into stages of the absurd, rebellion, and love. Yet other aspects of Camus’ work—his preoccupation with modernity and its association with Christianity, his fixations on Greek thought and classical imagery—have been largely neglected by critical study. These subjects of Camus’ have long deserved critical analysis, and Ronald D. Srigley finally pays them due attention in Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity.
 
            The straightforward, chronological readings of Camus’ cycles perceive them as simple advancement—the absurd is bad, rebellion is better, and love is best of all. Yet the difficulty with that perspective, Srigley argues, is that it ignores the relationships between the cycles. As the cycles progress, far from denoting improvement, they describe experiences that grow darker and more violent.
 
Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity also ventures into new interpretations of seminal works—The Myth of Sisyphus, The Rebel, and The Fall—that illuminate Camus’ critique of Christianity and modernity and his return to the Greeks. The book explores how those texts relate to the cyclical structure of Camus’ works and examines the limitations of the project of the cycles as Camus originally conceived it.
 
            Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity presents the decisive vision of that ultimate project: to critique Christianity, modernity, and the relationship between them and also to restore the Greek wisdom that had been eclipsed by both traditions. In contrast to much current scholarship, which interprets Camus’ concerns as modern or even postmodern, Srigley contends that Camus’ ambition ran in the opposite direction of history—that his principal aim was to articulate the themes of the ancients, highlighting Greek anthropology and political philosophy.
 
This book follows the trajectory of Camus’ work, examining the structure and content of Camus’ writing through a new lens. This assessment of Camus, in its unique approach and perspective, opens up new avenues of research regarding the accomplishments of this prominent philosopher and invigorates Camus studies. A thoroughly sourced text, Albert Camus’ Critique of Modernity makes a valuable resource for study of existentialism, modernity, and modern political thought.

Published by: University of Missouri Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I had the good fortune to be introduced to Camus by a political theorist. Zdravko Planinc gave me an eye for the odd or curious features of texts that we tend to smooth over in our search for more comforting types of coherence. And he encouraged a kind of ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

In 1942 Camus wrote in his notebook, “Calypso offers Ulysses a choice between immortality and the land of his birth. He rejects immortality. Therein lies perhaps the whole meaning of the Odyssey.” In 1946 he again draws on Homeric imagery, this time to ...

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Chapter One - The Absurd Man

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pp. 17-47

The common, orthodox interpretation of The Myth of Sisyphus is that it endorses a type of existentialism similar to that developed by Jean-Paul Sartre in early works like Nausea, Being and Nothingness, and Existentialism and Humanism. Though most commentators ...

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Chapter Two - A History of Rebel

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pp. 48-80

Anyone who has read The Rebel knows that it is an admirable book. It is admirable because of its penetrating and uncompromising analysis of the nature of modern totalitarianism and modern liberalism, its insight into the metaphysical revolt that underlies these political and intellectual movements ...

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Chapter Three - Modernity in Its Fullest Expression

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pp. 81-126

Most commentators agree that The Fall departs from Camus’ previous fiction in important ways. It is more complex and challenging psychologically, its content is darker and less forgiving than anything Camus had written previously, and it is also a lot ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 127-143

The First Man was to be a return to the experiential sources of Camus’ best insights into human nature1 as required by the plan of the cyclical books; it was also to complete the analysis of The Fall by continuing its religious symbolism and making good on its promise ...

Notes

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pp. 145-177

Bibliography

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pp. 179-185

Index

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pp. 187-189


E-ISBN-13: 9780826272539
E-ISBN-10: 0826272533
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826219244
Print-ISBN-10: 0826219241

Page Count: 201
Illustrations: 1 table
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth