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Albert Camus

Plague and Terror, Priest and Atheist

John Robert Maze

This book provides a depth-psychological, analytic reading of all Albert Camus’s imaginative literary works including his essays and reminiscences. The chronological procedure reveals an evolution of unconscious themes underlying the conscious views and attitudes to which Camus kept returning over the course of his life. Topics discussed in this study include the analysis of Camus’s rejection of morality as the enemy of affection and self-fulfilment; his atheism; the apparent qualifications in his opposition to terrorism; and his absolute rejection of the death penalty as an instrument of state terrorism. This group of attitudes is located in the Camus family nexus, both in their external and historical reference and in their emerging internal conscious and unconscious meanings, enriched by autobiographical references in the novels to Camus’s adult character and personal and political life experiences.


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1. Origins of an Anti-Moralist 9


9 CHAPTER 1 Origins of an Anti-Moralist It is ironic that in many quarters Albert Camus was regarded, during the period of his maturity, as one of the major moral arbiters of his time, yet when he examined his own behaviour he could not find any credible moral basis for it. His reputation as ‘the conscience of his epoch’ began to develop from his work as a journalist on the underground Resistance newspaper Combat. After the liberation of Paris from German occupation in 1944, Combat became an above-ground journal of opinion, with Camus as its editor-in-chief. In a Combat editorial written a few days after the liberation, Camus wrote: ‘We have decided to suppress politics and replace it with morality,’ which meant roughly that the paper would not support parties either of the right or left, but would judge their policies and actions independently. This reputation as public moralist was consolidated by his major work of social theory, The Rebel (L’Homme Révolté),1 published in 1951, at the height of the Cold War, although as with everyone who offers opinions on matters of intense ideological feeling, he had as many detractors as supporters. It was a time of intense dispute between intellectuals in Paris, as well as of concern throughout the greater part of the world’s population. China had intervened in the Korean War in direct conflict with the USA. French intellectuals believed that the USSR might take this as an opportunity to strike against Western Europe and...

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