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Algerian Chroniclesby Albert Camus
Synopses & Reviews
More than fifty years after Algerian independence, Albert Camus' Algerian Chronicles appears here in English for the first time. Published in France in 1958, the same year the Algerian War brought about the collapse of the Fourth French Republic, it is one of Camus' most political works--an exploration of his commitments to Algeria. Dismissed or disdained at publication, today Algerian Chronicles, with its prescient analysis of the dead end of terrorism, enjoys a new life in Arthur Goldhammer's elegant translation.
"Believe me when I tell you that Algeria is where I hurt at this moment," Camus, who was the most visible symbol of France's troubled relationship with Algeria, writes, "as others feel pain in their lungs." Gathered here are Camus' strongest statements on Algeria from the 1930s through the 1950s, revised and supplemented by the author for publication in book form.
In her introduction, Alice Kaplan illuminates the dilemma faced by Camus: he was committed to the defense of those who suffered colonial injustices, yet was unable to support Algerian national sovereignty apart from France. An appendix of lesser-known texts that did not appear in the French edition complements the picture of a moralist who posed questions about violence and counter-violence, national identity, terrorism, and justice that continue to illuminate our contemporary world.
"The 'Algerian-born Frenchman,' Camus (1913 — 1960), author of The Stranger and winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature, struggled with the concept and conflicts of colonialism. This first English translation of his Chroniques AlgÃ©riennes (1958) proves parochial and universal, timely and timeless. From the observation of despair in his data-specked reportage of the 1939 famine in Kabylia, Camus's tone mirrors the suffering he witnessed. The places are often particular and unfamiliar; the conditions are often not ('Too many people and not enough grain'). Nor does one have to work hard to update insights such as 'Not all the French in Algeria are bloodthirsty brutes, and not all the Arabs are fanatical mass killers.' Programmatic at times and fixed historically in the French-Algerian war — replete with its particular repression and violence, massacre and torture — the impassioned, politically committed Camus addresses issues that feel as current today as they did more than 50 years ago. 'When one looks at the recent disturbances in North Africa, it is wise to avoid two extremes,' he urged in 1945. While addressing hostile questions during a 1957 news conference, a reporter noted, 'In the end, Camus managed to make himself heard, not without difficulty.' He should still be heard today." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
More than 50 years after independence, Algerian Chronicles, with its prescient analysis of the dead end of terrorism, appears here in English for the first time. Published in France in 1958--the year the war caused the collapse of the Fourth French Republic--it is one of Albert Camus' most political works: an exploration of his commitment to Algeria.
An Australian "Hot Read for Summer" Pick, 2013
About the Author
Albert Camus (1913-1960), Algerian-French novelist, essayist, and playwright, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.Alice Kaplan is John M. Musser Professor of French and chair of the Department of French at Yale University.
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