Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Albert Camus

I read Camus' 'The Plague' years back as an undergraduate. As I had read Camus' much aclaimed novel, 'The Outsider' earlier, and not having been impressed with the same, I was in two minds about reading the same. But after reading the first two pages, I could not put it aside, literally. I was eerily entranced by the unfolding saga of a city in the grips of plague. Though the existential novel is written in a realistic vein, it was meant to be a metaphysical and surreal experience.
I was neither moved to tears or mesmerised by the actual beaty of narration. The sheer scenario left me spellbound.
At the time I was unaware of the nihilistic view of the world that Camus, Nietzhe, Sartre, Jenet etc presented in their literary works, I could not disagree with them either. If today literature is all about looking ahead, rejecting hopelessness and nihilistic tendencies altogether, it used to be the reigning romance of the seventies. Even then I would rate 'The Plague' as one of the 1000 books that one must read in one's lifetime.


nazeer said...

Your piece on Albert Camus reminds me of my own passion for existentialism during college days. I even wrote a write-up on Kafka, Sartre and Camus in the college magazine. I was then especially drawn to Sartre whose trilogy `Road to Freedom' was (still is) my favourite. Camus, Sartre, Jean Genet, Samuel Becket, James Joyce and other writers of the period were part of the Zeitgeist of the time. Their world view may be pessimistic, but each of them tries to portray profound experiences of individuals cut off from collective destinies. Existentialism as a philosophical concept is still attractive (to me)because its obsession with the existential angst of individuals.

Chandini said...

Your comment put me at ease. I used to be afraid of voicing my fatal attraction towards these existential writers, due to the present day drumming and denial of such concepts.
I do not hold Sartre as much as the others. And yes, havent we forgotten Soren Kierkegaard in our list? And Simone de Bouveire? Was she just the lady love of Sartre or did she too embrace existentialism? I know that she wrote 'The Second Sex' which was later acclaimed to be the mother of the Women's Lib movement. I never read it. I am not a women's libber, simply because I love my men much more than I love my women.
And anyway, why should there be a fight between genders for equality? Unequal is more luscious in this case than equality.