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Where to start reading Albert Camus?

Where to start reading Albert Camus?

Updated: January 6, 2024 by Mylene in Start reading

5 cover books albert camus

Sharing and witnessing are perhaps the main elements that Camus had of his role as a writer. His works belong to different cycles: the absurd, then the revolt. His novel L’Etranger, which explores the concept of absurdity, is the third most widely read French-language novel in the world. You have to discover the work of Albert Camus. I recommend that you explore the works in chronological order to better appreciate the evolution of the author’s thinking. Yes, if Albert Camus writes, it is above all to inspire us to think.

Nuptials (1938)

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. He was only 23 when he wrote Nuptials (Les Noces in French).

In these essays, Camus becomes fully aware of himself thanks to an intimate communion with the contemplation of the world. He elaborates on his native Algeria, where nothing else matters but the present moment. These essays tell us about the nuptials of a man with the nature. It is a book that contains philosophical and poetic ideas. This journey takes us far, forces us to make detours, to retrace our steps, to suspend time to savor an idea.

The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)

According to Camus, passion and revolt are the best weapons to combat the absurdity of life. To escape the torment of his own finite state, the uselessness of a life, each person must be inhabited by a spirit turned towards human relations, loving freedom in the full awareness of his powers and his limits. In this essay, Le mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus in French), Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: men’s search in vain for meaning.

There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.

Albert Camus

The Stranger (1942)

The main character, a kind of anti-hero, is a stranger to the world around him. This novel brings to life the absurdity of the human condition. The narrator lives in Algiers at the beginning of the 20th century. At that time, Algiers was a French department.

The story is simple at first glance: it is the story of a man who goes to his mother’s funeral, falls in love, and meets his neighbors. But, wait, think again! Despite the simplicity of the story, the analysis of the topic is complex. This man will do something that cannot be undone. During the trial, the judge focuses on the lack of emotion and regret shown by the accused. The man is disillusioned, his lack of feeling is pointed out again and again. I’m not going to tell you anything else!

The Plague (1947)

The Plague, La Peste in French, marks an evolution in the work of Camus since he affirms the possibility of resisting the absurdity of the human condition through solidarity and action. In the 1940s, the plague broke out in Oran. The inhabitants will go through different phases:

  • quarantine
  • heated reactions
  • growing indifference

Camus relates (without directly citing) the plague to war and the rise of Nazism. In his work, the author depicts a community that shares the same struggle, he demonstrates that the effects of the “scourge” on man can change mentalities, feelings and a vision of the world.

The Fall (1956)

The particularity of this novel is that the man who confesses is the only one to speak, throughout the book. In the Fall (la chute in French), Clamence, a brilliant lawyer, has known glorious hours until he does not come to the aid of a young woman who is drowning under the Paris bridge. From then on, he begins his fall. This guilt will awaken his human conscience… Clamence will begin to be overwhelmed by his past, which will become more and more unbelievable. This is where he poses as a “penitent” judge, accusing himself to avoid the judgment of others but also, and by reflection, to accuse others.

The Rewarding Experience of Reading Albert Camus

Albert Camus, an esteemed writer and philosopher, captivates readers across the globe with his profound works. For those learning French, delving into Camus’ books in their original language presents a multitude of advantages.

Primarily, immersing yourself in Camus’ French texts allows you to enhance your language proficiency, as you familiarize yourself with the intricacies of French grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. Moreover, exploring Camus’ literary masterpieces deepens your appreciation for French culture and literature. As you read his books, you will acquire a more profound comprehension of the French perspective and cultural values. Lastly, the experience of reading Camus’ books is inherently rewarding and intellectually enriching. His works wrestle with some of life’s most significant questions, such as the meaning of life and death, and the essence of freedom and responsibility. Engaging with these concepts in French enables you to cultivate a more sophisticated understanding of both the language and the human experience.

This list of Albert Camus books in French is a great place to start if you want to read Camus in French. You can access reading sheets for Nuptials by joining the book club. Become a member of our book club focused on learning French through literature, and you’ll not only improve your French, but also gain a unique and unforgettable journey into the world of many French writers and influential thinkers of worldwide renown.

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