Albert Camus


Born: Nov 7, 1913 in Dréan, El Taref, French Algeria
Died: Jan 4, 1960 (at age 46) in Villeblevin, Yonne, Burgundy, France
Nationality: French-Algerian
Famous For: The Stranger, The Plague, The Myth of Sisyphus

As one of the legendary visionaries of existentialism in literature, Camus wrote a number of works that were bleak and focused on equally bleak characters.

Camus’ Early Years

Camus was born in French-controlled Algeria in 1913. He grew up in the shadow of the French/Algerian War and this heavily influenced his beliefs and his writings. Camus’ father died in World War One and the future author’s early years were often a struggle.

As he grew older, he enrolled in the University of Algiers. An illness required him to study part-time. He worked quite a number of odd jobs to help pay for his education. In time, he completed his formal education and began his career as a writer.

One of his most well known early works was The Rebel, which was an essay on the topic of nihilism, the belief that life has no meaning. Camus expanded his philosophical musing beyond nonfiction formats and into more thought-provoking fiction.

Works on Existentialism

One of the most telling lines from a Camus work is found in The Stranger when a character notes whether or not God exists really ”doesn’t matter.” Camus was a dark writer with a darkness that was not rooted in the horror genre, but in a philosophical movement known as existentialism.

This movement was rooted in seeing life on its own merits. The outlook on life was traditionally downbeat. Often, themes and narratives would embody nihilism. This is evident in the major works of Albert Camus.

Work in Nonfiction

Again, Camus would begin his career mostly writing nonfiction. During World War II, he wrote for the underground newspaper Combat, which was a dangerous thing to do during the Nazi occupation of France. In 1951, he published The Rebel, which not only reflected a love for nihilistic rebellion, but it also was an anticommunist screed.

Camus’ Work in Fiction

Camus would go on to write several major works that would have tremendous impact on world literature. The Myth of Sisyphus was a 120-page essay covering themes of the absurdity of man’s search for meaning. Sisyphus was the person in Greek literature that pushed a rock up a hill only to see it roll down and the task needed to be repeated. This character was used by Camus to draw parallels to human futilities.

The Plague was a work of fiction centering on a medical team left to deal with the aftermath of an Algerian town destroyed by a major plague. Themes of despair are covered in the work and the medical team acts as a microcosmic reminder of how small our world really is.

The Stranger is Camus’ most well-known work. It deals with a loner who is facing trial for murder and simply does not care because he has long since given up on life.

Camus died in a car accident in 1960. He was 46.