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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 This group of attitudes is located in the Camus family nexus, both in their external and historical reference and in their emerging internal conscious and unconscious meanings, enriched by autobiographical references in the novels to Camus’s adult character and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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5. Exile and the Kingdom – Solitariness or Solidarity 87


87 CHAPTER 5 Exile and the Kingdom – Solitariness or Solidarity In the years between The Plague and The Rebel Camus produced two of his plays, State of Siege (L’État de Siège) which dramatized some of the main themes of The Plague, and The Just Assassins (Les Justes), catching up some of his ideas about ideologically inspired violence from The Rebel.1 In 1949 he also made a lecture tour of South America, where amongst other exotic experiences he saw a primitive religious dance ceremony culminating in states of mystical possession, which would find its way into “The Growing Stone” (La Pierre qui Pousse), one of the short stories in his collection Exile and the Kingdom.2 These stories were not written in a continuous burst of creativity, but piecemeal. They were worked over during several years and brought together in 1955. The book was finally published in 1957, the year in which Camus received the Nobel prize, but in the meantime he had quickly written and in 1956 published, The Fall (La Chute).3 It was set in Amsterdam, a city he had briefly visited and disliked, and as we shall see, its central theme, the disillusionment of a man who had thought himself universally admired, may have resulted from the hostile reception of The Rebel by his former friend Sartre, and the book’s being mis- understood and adversely criticized by intellectuals of both the right and the left. Camus published nothing of literary note between 1951 1 Albert Camus,...

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