A Voice from the Margins: Albert Camus at 100
2013 was the centenary of Camus’ birth in Mondovi, Algeria. This chapter will discuss the pied-noir writer’s evocation of place, something for which he is rightly acclaimed, and will illustrate the deep tenderness Camus displayed for the country of his birth. It will then subject two of his best-known novels, L’Étranger (1942) and La Peste (1947) to a critique that draws on Conor Cruise O’Brien’s controversial 1970 study, Albert Camus, in which it is claimed that the local Arab inhabitants of Algeria are notably absent from these works. Conor Cruise O’Brien supplies a much-needed reassessment of Camus’ position in relation to Algeria and he argues that, perhaps subconsciously, his Algeria is very much ‘French Algeria’, a point that is rarely made by Western critics. At a time of commemoration, such as the centenary provided for Camus readers in 2013, it is correct to celebrate, but one cannot afford to do so in a manner that is uncritical of the issues raised by the writing and public pronouncements raised by the writer. In the end, I trust that the pages which follow will offer a new critical frame or lens through which to reassess the myriad problems that his dual identity, French and Algerian, posed for Camus.
The son of a pied-noir1 farm labourer who died fighting in the French army during the First World War, Camus’ mother, Catherine Sintès, was ← 9 | 10 → forced to move to Algiers where she found work as a cleaner...
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