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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
I love my Country too much to be a Nationalist states Camus in his introduction to his Letters to a German Friend and this sets the tone for these magnificent essays. They highlight Camus political stance, as the early letters published in 1944 shriek his defiance from a beleaguered Paris to his final defence of his position on the Algerian crisis in 1958. It is Camus himself who becomes beleaguered on this journey: firstly being fated as an intellectual hero of the French resistance and later; a man shunned by the intellectual left for his failure to support the Algerian Liberation movement. Camus belief in justice, and his unwillingness to spill blood are twin themes of much of his writing, together with his struggles to come to terms with apparently contradictory positions and refusal to be anything less than truthful make for fascinating reading. This collection starts with the four "Letters to a German Friend" justifiably famous for their powerful indictment of the Nazis. They are a rallying call to his compatriots in their fight for freedom from German oppression, but more importantly they are an intellectual statement as to why Frenchmen should not hesitate to kill their enemy. Having made his case for the moral rightness of the French freedom fighters, Camus says "I can tell you (his German friend) that at the very moment when we are going to destroy you without pity, we still feel no hatred for you." In an essay published in his newspaper "Combat" written after the liberation of Paris in 1944 entitled "The Blood of Freedom" Camus makes his position clear: "Time will bear witness to the fact that the men of France did not want to kill and their hands were clean when they entered a war they had not chosen More short essays from "Combat" are followed by Camus' reflections immediately following the end of the war. In a short section "Pessimism and Tyranny" there are a couple of essays making the point that nihilism and negation are natural thoughts harboured by people after the horrors of war and those thoughts should be posited, but Camus is ready to move on to a more optimistic philosophy. Two more essays Defence of Intelligence" and "The unbeliever and Christians" further clarify Camus' position. The essays now jump ahead to 1953 when Camus is no longer writing articles for "Combat" and feels he can expound on one of his favourite themes Freedom. The section is entitled Defense of Freedom and we start to see Camus on the back foot. He has become fearful of the power of governments: the power of the state and criticises the intellectual left wing's love affair with Russia and its denial of individual freedoms. A selection of Essays about Algeria finds Camus at his most politicised. He became involved in an attempt to instigate a civilian truce in the war torn country in 1956 when tit for tat murders were common place. His own position as a Frenchman born in Algeria placed him firmly in the French colonialist camp in many peoples eyes and his famous statement that he would not support a movement that could lead to the death of his mother (who still lived in Algeria) made it a very personal position. Camus could however point to the fact that he had written profusely about the injustices towards the Arab community and was quite clear that reforms had to be made to give the Arabs equal rights, but this was not enough to satisfy the left wingers in France. He courageously took a leading role in trying to bring about a truce, getting his hands dirty in a dangerous situation, perhaps he was naïve, but his willingness to get involved has to be admired. It was all over for him in 1958 when he felt compelled to make a final statement on his position and in an essay "Algeria 1958" he has clearly been left behind by events. By this time Camus had stated "I am incapable in rejoicing in any death whatsoever" and "no case justifies the death of the innocent" Their follows essays on the Hungarian uprising in 1956, where Camus again found himself at odds with many of his former friends and while he lambasted them with...
Review: Resistance, Rebellion and Death: EssaysUser Review - Goodreads
The essay RELECTIONS ON THE GUILLOTINE is the most powerful argument I have ever encountered opposing the death penalty. It impacted me greatly.
LETTERS TO A GERMAN FRIEND
THE LIBERATION OF PARIS
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