• Life in Algeria
Although born in extreme poverty, Camus attended the lycee and university in Algiers, where he developed an abiding interest in sports andthe theater. His university career was cut short by a severe attack of tuberculosis, an illness from which he suffered periodically throughout his life. The themes of poverty, sport, and the horror ofhuman mortality all figure prominently in his volumes of so-called Algerian essays: L'Envers et l'endroit (The Wrong Side and the Right Side, 1937), Noces (Nuptials, 1938), and L'Ete (Summer, 1954).In 1938 he became a journalist with Alger-Republicain, an anticolonialist newspaper. While working for this daily he wrote detailed reports on the condition of poor Arabs in the Kabyles region. Thesereports were later published in abridged form in Actuelles III (1958).
• The War Years
Such journalistic experience proved invaluable when Camus went to France during World War II. Therehe worked for the Combat resistance network and undertook the editorship of the Parisian daily Combat, which first appeared clandestinely in 1943. His editorials, both before and after theliberation, showed a deep desire to combine political action with strict adherence to moral principles.
During the war Camus published the main works associated with his doctrine of the absurd--his viewthat human life is rendered ultimately meaningless by the fact of death and that the individual cannot make rational sense of his experience. These works include the novel The Stranger (1942; Eng.trans., 1946), perhaps his finest work of fiction, which memorably embodies the 20th-century theme of the alienated stranger or outsider; a long essay on the absurd, The Myth of Sysiphysus (1942; Eng.trans., 1955); and two plays published in 1944, Cross Purpose (Eng. trans., 1948) and Caligula (Eng. trans., 1948). In these works Camus explored contemporary nihilism with considerable sympathy, but...