A great essay on a great writer: Messud on Camus

A great review will not only change your mind, but make you see — and feel — afresh.

Such is Claire Messud's essay on Albert Camus' Algerian Chronicles, in the 50th anniversary issue of the New York Review of Books. Must read!

But if you don't, here are some reasons — from Camus — why you should.

On violence for the sake of overthrowning one's oppressors:

“I merely say that we must refuse all legitimacy to violence, whether it comes from raison d’état or totalitarian philosophy. Violence is both unavoidable and unjustifiable.”

On intellectuals who justify violence:

Each side thus justifies its own actions by pointing to the crimes of its adversaries. This is a casuistry of blood with which intellectuals should, I think, have nothing to do, unless they are prepared to take up arms themselves.

On violence in politics:

“I am not made for politics,” he wrote in his notebooks in November 1945, “because I am incapable of wanting or accepting the death of the adversary.”

On the eroticism of nature:

There is only one love in this world. To embrace the body of a woman is also to hold to oneself this strange joy that descends from the sky toward the sea.

[Camus with his publisher Gallimard, not long before his death]

Camus and gallidmard 1958

Must. Read. Camus. 

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