Todd, Olivier Albert Camus: A Life

ISBN 13: 9780099749110

Albert Camus: A Life

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9780099749110: Albert Camus: A Life

Albert Camus is among the most significant French writers of the twentieth century. His novels, The Plague and The Outsider, have a timeless power and appeal and are studied all over the world, and his philosophical work has had an enduring influence. Oliver Todd has been authorised by Camus' family to write the definitive life.

Opening with his impoverished childhood in Algiers, Todd brings the historical context to life, shedding light on Camus' later agonising conflict between sympathy for the working class Algerians and for the French colonials with a stake in their adopted land. His was a life of impossible choices and perpetual struggle, from his intimacy with the Gallimard family, despite their collaborationist activities, and his involvement in the conflict between Satre and de Beauvoir; to his own battles with debilitating bouts of tuberculosis and the passionate, restless nature that would never let him settle.

With an extraordinary grasp of both his subject and his times, Todd brings to this rich, generous biography a rare immediacy and perception, evoking a great writer and his world with memorable force and engaging subtlety.

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Review:

Olivier Todd's biography of Albert Camus matches its subject's depth by portraying the man as well as the moralist. Born in Algeria and raised in poverty by an illiterate mother, Camus never forgot where he came from. He made his name in Nazi- occupied Paris--publicly as the author of The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, covertly as a member of the Resistance and editor of its newspaper, Combat--but he longed for the North African sun of his youth. During the years of crisis when Algeria struggled to break free from France, Camus alienated both colonialists and revolutionaries by supporting full equality for Arabs but denouncing terrorism. "I believe in justice," he told an Algerian heckler at a 1957 meeting he addressed in Stockholm after winning the Nobel Prize. "But I will defend my mother before justice." It is this preference for the concrete over the abstract that makes Camus such an appealing thinker. Todd's biography, which offers the most fully human depiction yet, is equally engaging.

Review:

"Clear eyed, compendious, with full access to the Camus archive, [ Albert Camus] fulfilled every expectation... Todd's biography is both remarkably thorough and candid, and will prove indispensable to all those interested in Camus' life... completely fascinating" (William Boyd Daily Telegraph)

"The biography of the season... Mesmerising" ( Observer)

"Todd, in this first authorised, definitive life - and one which is unlikely to be surpassed - reveals Camus to be far more fun that one would expect the author of L'Etranger to be" ( Time Out)

"Todd has spared no pains in his search for significant details... it is difficult to imagine that there can ever be a more exhaustive study of Camus' personality and of the relationship between his work and his life" ( New York Review of Books)

"With admirable detachment, Olivier Todd has told us how and why Camus wrote and lived so magnificently" (Tom Rosenthal Daily Mail)

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Todd, Olivier
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