On Albert Camus: The Stranger, The Plague, and the Existentialists
From The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today?
Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
Albert Camus (1913-1960) was born in Algeria to French parents. After his father died in World War I, when Albert was still an infant, the family was reduced to impoverished circumstances, forced to move in with relatives in an apartment without electricity or running water. From these humble beginnings, Camus became one of the most famous and celebrated writers in the world, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature at the improbably young age of 44.
In this episode of the History of Literature, we look at his works, including The Stranger and The Plague; his entanglement with the existentialists (a label he rejected); the analysis of his works by Jean-Paul Sartre, and the three possible philosophical responses to humanity’s essentially absurd condition.