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Algerian Chronicles [Hardcover]

Albert Camus , Arthur Goldhammer , Alice Kaplan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 2013
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.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 154 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (7 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674072588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674072589
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14.9 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. His childhood was poor, although not unhappy. He studied philosophy at the University of Algiers, and became a journalist as well as organizing the Théâtre de l'équipe, a young avant-garde dramatic group.

His early essays were collected in L'Envers et l'endroit (The Wrong Side and the Right Side) and Noces (Nuptials). He went to Paris, where he worked on the newspaper Paris Soir before returning to Algeria. His play, Caligula, appeared in 1939. His first two important books, L'Etranger (The Outsider) and the long essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), were published when he returned to Paris.

After the occupation of France by the Germans in 1941, Camus became one of the intellectual leaders of the Resistance movement. He edited and contributed to the underground newspaper Combat, which he had helped to found. After the war he devoted himself to writing and established an international reputation with such books as La Peste (The Plague 1947), Les Justes (The Just 1949) and La Chute (The Fall; 1956). During the late 1950s Camus renewed his active interest in the theatre, writing and directing stage adaptations of William Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun and Dostoyevsky's The Possessed. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was killed in a road accident in 1960.

His last novel, Le Premier Homme (The First Man), unfinished at the time of his death, appeared for the first time in 1994. An instant bestseller, the book received widespread critical acclaim, and has been translated and published in over thirty countries. Much of Camus's work is available in Penguin.

Sartre paid tribute to him in his obituary notice: 'Camus could never cease to be one of the principal forces in our cultural domain, nor to represent, in his own way, the history of France and of this century.'

(Image: Albert Camus in Oran. Private collection. Rights reserved.)

Product Description

Review

Essentially, Algerian Chronicles surveys the making of a metaphysical rebel, Camus himself. In his world, like ours, riven by mindless extremism and terrorism, he sought moderation, toleration and humanity. He is being reread today, without post-colonial prejudice, as a means to engage our comparable metaphysical condition. 'The role of the intellectual is to seek by his own lights to make out the respective limits of force and justice in each camp, ' he contended in 1958. 'It is to explain the meaning of words in such a way as to sober minds and calm fanaticisms, even if this means working against the grain.' Algerian Chronicles reminds that Camus accepted that lonely, singular role with inspiring courage and commitment. --Phillip C. Naylor, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (05/03/2013)

[...] better placed than any of his french comrades on the French Left to appreciate the inadequacy of the opposition they drew between cruel colonists and a suffering Arab mass. Day after Day, he says, these simplifications prove, in a sort of reductio absurdum, that the Algeria the French and the Arabs are condemned either to live together or die together.Whether he was ultimately right is open to question: he certainly paid a high price for his nuanced view of the situation. --Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman, 25/05/2013
<brAlgerian Chronicles is a collection of journalistic writings published in 1958, when the crisis in Algeria posed a persistent threat to the government of France. It was to be Camus's final book and appears in retrospect as a summing-up of his feelings about his birthplace...These remarkably mature dispatches, written when he was 25, show that Camus was anxious from the start about the political relationship between his native country and the mainland...The impetus behind the repeated pleas for constructive dialogue that occupy the later parts of Algerian Chronicles was personal as much as political...Algerian Chronicles, never before translated in its entirety, is a document worth having. James Campbell, Wall Street Journal, 03/05/2013

--Andrew Hussay, 1/05/2013

Arthur Goldhammer's brilliant translation of Actuelles III (the collection's original title) appears at a moment when Camus's writings have tragic resonance for events today in that part of the world […] [Camus] concludes his book 'is amongst other things a history of a failure'. But noble failures like the Algerian Chronicles are both timeless and timely. --Robert Zaretsky, Times Literary Supplement, 11/10/2013

The last time [Camus] had spoken out on Algeria had been in January 1956 on a visit to Algiers, when he had called for a civilian truce between French colonialists and the Arab-dominated National Liberation Front (FLN). For his trouble he received death threats from the colonialists and scornful rejection by the FLN. At the risk of being labeled a coward, Camus decided to keep his peace. This silence lasted until 1958 when he published Actuelles III, a selection of essays and articles outlining his position on Algeria. Some of these writings were translated into English for Resistance, Rebellion and Death (1960) but others, such as his early forays into journalism for the anti-colonialist newspaper Alger Républicain, appear for the first time in this new translation of the 1958 collection. Algerian Chronicles also includes two letters that Camus wrote to French president René Coty in 1957 beseeching him to pardon several captured FLN members. That Camus should have been working behind the scenes to save the separatists whose violence he so abhorred speaks volumes about this complex man. --Tobias Grey, Financial Times, 03/05/2013

"[...] authoritatively edited by Alice Kaplan [...] from meticulous reports on poverty and prejudice in 1930s Kabylia to the great speech in Algiers in 1956, when right-wing thugs shouted down his heartfelt call for a civilian truce, every page speaks of his honesty, his compassion, his empathy." --Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, 21 December 2013

The last time [Camus] had spoken out on Algeria had been in January 1956 on a visit to Algiers, when he had called for a civilian truce between French colonialists and the Arab-dominated National Liberation Front (FLN). For his trouble he received death threats from the colonialists and scornful rejection by the FLN. At the risk of being labeled a coward, Camus decided to keep his peace. This silence lasted until 1958 when he published Actuelles III, a selection of essays and articles outlining his position on Algeria. Some of these writings were translated into English for Resistance, Rebellion and Death (1960) but others, such as his early forays into journalism for the anti-colonialist newspaper Alger Républicain, appear for the first time in this new translation of the 1958 collection. Algerian Chronicles also includes two letters that Camus wrote to French president René Coty in 1957 beseeching him to pardon several captured FLN members. That Camus should have been working behind the scenes to save the separatists whose violence he so abhorred speaks volumes about this complex man. --Tobias Grey, Financial Times, 03/05/2013

About the Author

Albert Camus (1913-1960), Algerian-French novelist, essayist, and playwright, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Arthur Goldhammer received the French-American Translation Prize in 1990 for his translation of A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution. Alice Kaplan is John M. Musser Professor of French and chair of the Department of French at Yale University.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The true son of Algeria 11 Aug 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Camus 1

Algerian Chronicles

By Albert Camus

A review for the Cote d'Azur Men's Book Group by IRB Hibbitt

Death walks the streets, the squares and the souks. A reporter sent out by his news editor to find out what is really happening views the thousands of rioters and prays for an end to the lunacy but the hatred evident in the faces of his fellow countrymen fill him with despair.
The Cote d'Azur Book Group debated whether there are any modern writers of the same quality as Albert Camus who wrote the fascinating Algerian Chronicles and decided there is not. We are now all reporters thanks to the mobile phone. The crystalline prose of a writer such as Camus is almost matchless in modern journalism.
That reporter -Albert Camus - born as a Frenchman- is destined to rise to celebrity status both as a Nobel Prize winner for literature and as a peacemaker, politician and philosopher whose words were as vital as the carved message on a loved one's grave.
The scene is not Syria where we see death and destruction televised daily but a glimpse into the past of a French colony over fifty years ago. Algeria, the Arab country that finally fought and won its independence and was home to French settlers, Arabs and Islamists in the 1950s a so-called French department and today ruled by the rarely seen President Bouteflika.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cry the beloved country 1939 - 1958 2 Sep 2013
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This is a collection of mostly journalistic writings by Camus about Algeria written between 1939 and 1958. Camus was part of the French settler community in Algeria, but he was not part of the privileged elite as he came from a working class background. He felt both French and Algerian. The settler community was both long established and numerous. The earlier articles are factual accounts of the hardships of the Algerian people. The later articles are his comments on the heartbreaking situation in his homeland, written from metropolitan France. This is the first time that many of these articles have been published in English and to an English speaking audience most of the context of these articles will be unfamiliar. Camus wrote about a country that he hoped could be French and Berber and Arab. He took a humane middle way but found himself continuously and despairingly thwarted by the steam-roller of historical events.

THE BOOK
The book begins with a note from the translator followed by an 18 page introduction by Alice Kaplan, a professor of French at Yale. The Algerian Chronicles proper begins with a 13 page preface by Camus, followed by 6 sections. The Misery of Kabylia (1939) is a set of newspaper articles on the famine in the Kabylia region of Algeria. Although edited for publication in Algerian Chronicles these are still very detailed, factual reportage. The original publication of these articles contributed to Camus's exile from Algeria. The Crisis in Algeria (1945) contains articles first published in the French Resistance newspaper Combat. Algerian Torn (1956) appeared in L'Express. The Maisonseul Affair (1956) first appeared in Le Monde. Algeria 1958 contains two short articles offering solutions to the Algerian crisis.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical yet relevant 24 April 2013
By William M. Jarrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Anyone already familiar with Albert Camus knows about his lonely and agonized stance on Algeria. As a native son of the European settler community the generally left-leaning Camus never unequivocally embraced anti-colonialism. Instead, he appealed for reconciliation between Europeans and Arabs, believing that both communities belonged to Algeria. By the time this anthology of articles and letters was published in 1958 his voice went unheeded as FLN terrorism and French Army torture defined the Algerian conflict. A fatal car accident prevented Camus from witnessing the final endgame of a war now obscure to the average American.

Now available in English Algerian Chronicles may not be part of the essential Camus yet it is the summation of an important part of his life - his response to war in the land of his birth. His humanistic political morality has previously been available to English readers in Camus's other nonfiction, particularly Neither Victims nor Executioners and Resistance, Rebellion and Death. This book expresses that humanism in regard to the French-Algerian War as Camus appealed for reason and denounced excesses on both sides.

The contents cover twenty years of writing. The first seven chapters describe the misery of the Kabyila region. In these 1939 newspaper articles Camus describes poverty under French colonialism establishing credentials as a European not indifferent to the colonized. The rest of the book is mostly from the 1950s with a few postwar articles from Combat. An appendix of writing not in the original edition is invaluable. Included is Le Monde article which was the source of Camus's often quoted response to terrorism, "I believe in justice, but I will defend my mother before justice."

Algerian Chronicles is a book of historical interest yet the problem of finding morality amid terrorism remains relevant. Readers should not be bored by the history lessons unless they ponder present dilemmas between justice and defending their mothers.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beauty and experience 25 May 2013
By donald j von volkenburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
camus is one of my very few favorite writers ... mystical, ethical, poetic prose. i particularly love the book that collects his lyrical and critical essays ... especially his writing about algiers, algeria, and his travels around europe. what an amazing person and writer. his underground writing, editing and publishing in france during the nazi control of france takes my breath away. and now, with this new publication of his "algerian chronicles," we have a sense of his birth in a french slum in algiers, his maturation there, and his deep, intellectual knowledge and assessment of the french control of algiers and his personal experience of being born there, growing up there, and the realities of cultural differences that can lead to conflict and bloodshed. camus is easily one of my very greatest of writers. this new translation solidifies that.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Sidebar to the Algerian War 18 Jun 2013
By Barry E. Vinyard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I purchased this slim collection of Camus' essays because it was recommended in Alistair Horne's masterful record of the Algerian War ("A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-1962); As such, I was pleased to be able to read Camus' "on the ground" trenchant observations, which seemed to carefully tread a middle ground between the French and Algerians. Finally, I found myself wishing that US governmental officials had be able to read both works (Camus' and Horne's) prior to the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone following Syria right now should read this book 29 Dec 2013
By Theresa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What is old is new again. The same situation is being repeated over and over. Algeria is the historical road map for all of the modern terror movements (Al-Qa`ida) and anyone who wants a good overview of what is going on needs to FIRST go back to Algeria and get a good solid foundation on what happened there to then move forward and look anew at all that is going on in the world today.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WANNA KNOW WHAT A HERO THINKS AND WRITES LIKE? 5 Sep 2013
By Tom Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What an amazing man! Here is someone who really put all he had behind his beliefs and convictions and even then.......These are articles Camus wrote for Le Monde and an attempt to keep France from a very stupid and costly war and one that was very destructive for Algeria. His thinking is flawless but he found himself not ignored or vilified in France and listened too incorrectly in Algeria. Sadly he did not live to see his beloved mother country free itself. Beautifully translated in the exact style Camus uses when he writes in French - concise, lazer observations from a great man.
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