Famous French writers. Albert Camus. Snippets of French history.
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Albert Camus was born to a pied-noir family in Algeria, which was then French. The term pied-noir, sometimes considered derogatory though it shouldn’t be, refers to French (or European) people who lived in Algeria during French occupation. The term is usually used for French people who subsequently returned to live in France. Pied noir means “black foot”.
Albert’s father, a farm labourer, died while Albert was very young, as a result of wounds sustained during WWI. His mother, an illiterate cleaning woman, was half Spanish and hard of hearing. The family grew up in abject poverty.
Albert contracted TB and had to give up a promising career in football. However, he gained a place at a good lycee in Algeria, and from there went to the University of Algiers. There he did the equivalent of a Master’s a degree in philosophy, studying when he could and working to earn his way through his studies. He joined the Communist party, then the Free Algerians, then the French anarchists … and was generally strongly-opinionated in his dissertations, and revolutionary in his attitudes. As World War II broke out, however, he changed his ideals and became fiercely anti-German.
He married Simon Hie in 1934 but the marriage didn’t last due to infidelities on both sides. Despite claiming that marriage was “unnatural” and that it was not for him, he married Francine Faure in 1940 and had two children (twins) by her. He appears to have loved his children very much, though his infidelities to their mother were constant.
He worked as a journalist most of his career, and only published his first books, l’Etranger (the Stranger) and la Legende de Sisyphus (the Myth of Sisyphus) in 1941 when he had moved back to France.
Camus died in a car crash in 1960, aged only 46. There was a theory for a while that the death was the result of a plot, but this does not seem to me to be realistic. His descendants hold copyrights to his books and articles, of which there are well over 100, to include some that were published post-humously. He was an eclectic man who wanted to change the injustices of the world. Despite poor health left by TB, he was fantastically energetic, and quite possibly a real pain to live with.
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