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Reviewed by:
  • Albert Camus in the 21st Century: A Reassessment of his Thinking at the Dawn of the New Millennium, and: Ces forces obscures de l'âme: Women, Race and Origins in the Writings of Albert Camus, and: Camus, A Romance, and: Les Derniers Jours de la vie d'Albert Camu, and: Dictionnaire Camus
  • Adele King
Christine Margerrison, Mark Orme, and Lissa Lincoln, eds. Albert Camus in the 21st Century: A Reassessment of his Thinking at the Dawn of the New Millennium. New York: Rodopi, 2008. Pp. 295. $87.
Christine Margerrison, Ces forces obscures de l'âme: Women, Race and Origins in the Writings of Albert Camus. New York: Rodoip, 2008. Pp. 356. $104.40.
Elizabeth Hawes. Camus, A Romance. New York: Grove Press, 2009. Pp.319. $25.
José Lenzini. Les Derniers Jours de la vie d'Albert Camu. Paris: Actes Sud, 2009. Pp. 144. €16.50.
Jeanvyes Guérin, ed. Dictionnaire Camus. Paris: Robert Laffont, 2009. Pp. 992. €30.

Several new studies of Camus have been published prior to the outpouring of commemorative events for the fiftieth anniversary of his death in January 2010.

Albert Camus in the 21st Century is a collection of papers, some in French, some in English, from a conference held in Paris in 2004. In an introductory paper, Maurice Weyembergh establishes one reason we are still interested in Camus: his creation of paradigmatic myths and characters—particularly Meursault, who "illustre l'expérience d'une vie au ras des sensations," and Clamence, "un espéce de modele de duplicité" (31). Most of the essays, however, are concerned with Camus's thought rather than his literary creations. While there are essays on other subjects (even Camus's concept of the Absurd in relation to genetic diagnosis!), a few political and ethical themes predominate: what Camus said about Algeria in relation to what has happened there since his death in 1960; the willingness of the hero of Les Justes to die after he has killed the grand duke in comparison with today's suicide bombers; and the continuing relevance of Camus's position on doctrinaire political theories since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Camus's reflections on Algeria are complex. Guy Dugas discusses Camus's refusal to justify violence in contrast to the positions of other writers in l'École d'Alger, such as his friend Jules Roy. Peter Dunwoodie analyses Le Premier Homme as a political text in which the French working class in Algeria is portrayed as similar in their poverty to the Muslim community, thus giving a revised view of the colonial past in order to justify the continued presence of the French. Camus does not, according to Dunwoodie, take into account the violence of the occupation and the privileges of the occupiers. Camus's hope for an Algerian federation composed of French and Arabs was clearly impossible; his fears for what might happen in an independent Algeria, however, now appear well-founded. He foresaw the rise of empire building in Arab countries. Like Camus, Assia Djebar feels that Algerian culture is in danger. Djebar places Camus "at the forefront of the funeral procession in […] her liturgy for the Algerian dead" (13).

Several discussions of Les Justes establish the difference between Camus's "meurtriers délicats" and today's suicide bombers. Being willing to die is never a justification for killing innocent people. John Foley analyses the position in L'Homme révolté on legitimate political violence, and shows how, for Camus, killing is always ambiguous. Jørg Boisen considers the relationship between Camus's instinctive hedonism (the egoism of the earlier essays) and his desire for justice, especially in writing after the War. Boisen finds that Camus's criticism of the excesses of political thought makes him the "héros intellectuel de l'après-guerre" (129).

Christine Margerrison studies Janine in "La Femme adultère" as a personification of the alienation of the colonist, an analysis expanded in her book, Ces forces obscures de l'âme. She considers sexuality as "the crucial point of intersection connecting questions of race with the treatment of women" (315). Camus's universe is egocentric and solitary; others considered part of his "homosocial...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 158-160
Launched on MUSE
2010-07-02
Open Access
No
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