The Rebel, by Albert Camus
The publication a year and a half ago of Albert Camus’ L’Homme Révolté was bound to cause a sensation in French literary circles. The author of The Stranger and The Plague had already achieved a position of unquestioned preeminence as a novelist. He was distinguished among French intellectuals by the firmness of his anti-Communist convictions, his moral elevation, and his refusal to rest content with the prevailing philosophic mood of despair. Already estranged from Sartre, Camus marked with his new book his final break from the former’s curious blend of Existentialism and Marxism. For L’Homme Révolté was both a philosophic and a political tract. On the level of ethics it represented an effort to formulate more precisely the doctrine of Stoic protest against mass suffering that had formed the central theme of The Plague. As a political polemic, Camus’ book dealt with terror—and in so doing offered a telling answer to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Humanisme et Terreur, a collection of essays by one of Sartre’s closest associates, whose sinuous, sophisticated argumentation had given French neutralists their most nearly tenable standing-ground.
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