Friday, June 12, 2015

Ruin Was Busting Out All Over

Albert Camus: A Life
by Olivier Todd

In the summer of 1939, Camus felt confused, as he wrote to Francine Faure, "I don't know if I'm going to take my vacation, and if I did, I'd want a month doing my own work in a place I liked. But I can't think about that today--I received the typed copy of Caligula [his new play] and on rereading it, I see I'll have to rewrite it all. Everything seems difficult to me, and I have to make an adaptation of La Condition humaine and get on with my novel. All that requires more energy than I've got, and how can anyone work when there's an ignoble threat of war?"

He wrote to Francine again a few days later: "Unless there's a miracle everything will collapse. I'm thinking of T. E. Lawrence's last statements: 'The world is waiting for a great movement of generosity or a great wave of death.' The wave is here, and for it to recede, each of us must do everything we can in his little circle to start the movement."

Although he was happily in love with Francine, Camus felt out of sorts with himself. After a brief vacation during which he worked on his own projects, from October 6, 1938 to October 28, 1939 he had learned the journalist's trade, helping to produce nearly four hundred issues of the Alger Republicain.

He was tempted by journalism because of the pressure of a daily deadline, the quickened  pace of European history, and his penchant for being a moralist. The newspaper's politics were sympathetic to the working classes and Moslems and opposed Franco in Spain, Nazism, and fascism.

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