I noted on a blustery November 7th that it was the birthday of French writer Albert Camus. I think a lot of people think of him as an existentialist based on his books, but he said that did not describe him. Actually, in an interview, he rejected any ideological associations.
I find Camus more optimistic than some people. I like a few quotes of his in that spirit.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
His novels include L’étranger (1942, The Stranger), La Peste (1947, The Plague), and La Chute (1956, The Fall). All of them have their grim moments. When I read Camus, I was only in my teens and I think the sadness in his writing played into some Romantic notions I foolishly had then about being depressed.
In his book, The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus did deal with a big topic of existentialism – suicide. Camus wrote that “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that.”
In Camus’ view, suicide was a natural solution to the absurdity of life. But in The Myth of Sisyphus, he also tries to identify the kinds of life that could be worth living.
This weekend while I am away from the early winter of Paradelle in summerish weather, I’m thinking a lot about how season and location affect our attitude and mood. Though I have been rereading some Camus this past week, I am not feeling the inherent meaninglessness that seemed to overcome him at times.
In 1957, Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. On January 4, 1960, Camus died in a car crash.
“I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t,
than live as if there isn’t and to die to find out that there is.”