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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 This group of attitudes is located in the Camus family nexus, both in their external and historical reference and in their emerging internal conscious and unconscious meanings, enriched by autobiographical references in the novels to Camus’s adult character and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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7. The First Man – Camus Buries his Father 163


163 CHAPTER 7 The First Man – Camus Buries His Father In 1958 Camus, understanding at last that the reconciliation he hoped for between Arab Algerians and French Algerians was bitterly rejected by each side, declared that he would write no more about Algeria and retired to the village of Lourmarin in Provence. His wife and children came with him, though Francine and he were living in a state of cool estrangement, divorced in all but name. He continued his interest in the theatre and had started a new fictional work. At the beginning of January 1960 he set out with his friends Michel and Janine Gallimard and their daughter Anne in the Galli- mard’s car for a visit to Paris, the journey scheduled to take two days. On the second day, speeding north from Sens on a straight section of National Highway 5, the car swerved, perhaps because of some mechanical defect, bounced off a plane tree and smashed into another tree some fifteen meters further on. Camus was killed instantly, thrown head first into the rear window, his neck broken and his head smashed. Michel was seriously injured and died a few days later in hospital. His wife and daughter escaped almost unscathed except for shock. Camus’s briefcase was found in the muddy field; in it were a couple of books and the hand-written manuscript of The First Man (Le Premier Homme), about half-finished according to his original plan.1 The manuscript was not published until 1994, some thirty-four years...

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