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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2011
Exile and Kingdom is the chrysalis out of which The Fall (his great 3rd novel) formed.The stories depict various forms of exile,isolation,alienation.Four are set in Algeria,one of which "The Guest" gets most directly to Camus's present situation and dilemma: how do you treat the Arabs if you are a French Algerian?Daru is a teacher and is asked to keep an Arab prisoner in his house,one who killed his brother,then take him to the nearest town.There is a sense of the native Arab population on the move,in revolt,ready to rise up against their colonist masters.The story is unsettling in light of Camus's treatment by fellow French intellectuals like Sartre and his position as a pied-noir in Algeria.Camus refused to take sides in the conflict.Daru like Camus is exiled by the choices he has made. Daru does not turn in the prisoner,he sets him on his way to make his own choice,freedom or imprisonment.This kindness may result in death.The village was beginning to stir.This is my favorite story.

The Adulterous Woman is disenchanted with her husband on a business trip through Algeria,she still feels attractive to other men,but the vigor has gone out of their marriage.She communes with the night stars,identifies with the nomads she can see from the fort as they aren't tied to the town.She is no longer an extension of her husband,she is freed to embrace the wider world.The native Algerians are disdained by Marcel,her husband.In The Renegade the exiled ex-priest narrator is waiting in the desert,a prisoner of a desert tribe,who have cut out his tongue,having become converted to the dionysiac religion of his masters. The narrator had been a missionary to the tribes of Taghasa,he now waits to kill the new missionary. He disowns Christ, refusing to believe in his righteousness and declares that the Fetish and the power of hatred are the only true and flawless powers in the world.Camus depicts religion as the disjointed absurdity of a disordered mind.

The Silent Men is about a labour dispute in a Cooper's shop in the Algeria of Camus's youth. They have recently returned to work after a failed strike. When the owner's daughter has a serious, acute illness requiring an ambulance, the men do not offer any words of condolence. Where once there had been a sense of being all part of a whole, they no longer feel such for the owner who refused them.The next story is about the successful artist,Jonas, who ceases to be able to paint.The tone reflects Camus's bitterness and sense of isolation at the time of the quarrel with Sartre and his circle.In his new solitude Camus would never show more solidarity, giving way to the French equation/ pun solitaire-solidaire,the only word(s) written on a blank canvas by Jonas.The last story,The Growing Stone,is set on a Brazilian coastal town.A visiting French engineer,D'Arrast,finds a sort of mystical communion with the remote people.Many of the scenes in Exile and Kingdom have a dream-like quality.The `Kingdom' in these stories is one of fantasy.The exile is real and from it stems the fantasy of the kingdom.In the stories solidarity pitches up against solitude.The stories are not easy reads,you feel Camus is trying to work on themes in miniature,but they fascinate anyone who has read his more well known novels and essays.
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Six short stories, all full of atmosphere, though the significance of the collection’s title escapes me, as does the link other reviewers can see with Existentialism.

“The Adulterous Woman” is not actually adulterous, but, travelling in the bitterly cold Atlas mountains with her salesman husband, she is not only out of her element but becomes more acutely aware of the nature of their marriage.

The story called “The Renegade”, told breathlessly in the first person, is about a missionary who, against all advice, chose to work in a savage Fetish-worshipping community living in Taghasa, a scorching salt-mining city in Algeria. His suffering at the hands of the natives is unspeakable, and it makes him give up everything he had believed in.

“The Silent Men” are the workers in a small concern making coops. Their employer had been a good employer, but he could not afford to give them a wage rise. They had gone on strike, but returned beaten; and they refuse to speak to their employer.

“The Guest” is an Arab prisoner, accused of a murder. A gendarme had ploughed throw the snow to bring him to a lonely schoolhouse en route from the village where he was stationed to prison in the nearby town. The police are short-staffed, and the gendarme had given the French schoolmaster a pistol and had ordered him to escort the Arab to the police headquarters on the following day. The story describes the relationship between the unwilling schoolmaster and the prisoner.

“The Artist at Work”: The rise and decline of a painter in an apartment over-crowded with canvasses, his devoted wife and their three children, his admiring and later his critical friends. Eventually the lack of solitude contributes to his decline; but when at last he achieves it, it is too late. Comic at first, sadder and darker towards the end.

The last story, “The Growing Stone”, sees a French engineer arriving in a humid and muddy estuary town in Brazil, where he was to build a jetty to prevent the river from periodically flooding the town. There he witnesses and becomes caught up in a frenzied religious ceremony. Top-heavy with descriptions, the overall picture nevertheless seems strangely blurred and I found it hard to get a grip on the scenes. I thought it much the least satisfying of the stories.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 February 2014
The main characters in these very cleverly build short stories are people who are physically or mentally prisoners of their social, economic, religious or ideological conventions. Some of them dream of escaping their fate and some have the opportunity to do so. But, will they choose their (new) kingdom or will they remain in exile?

'The adulterous woman' feels trapped in existing moral conventions. Her kingdom is freedom and love. But, will she leave her husband?

'The renegade ' tells the story of a Catholic missionary who wants to convert a foreign tribe. The tribesmen try to force him by torture to adore their own god (their religious kingdom). Will he do it?

In 'The Silent Men', workers return silently to work after a failed strike. They didn’t reach their expected kingdom (salary increases). But, will they discuss again with their boss?

In 'The Guest', a teacher has to bring a blatant murderer to a prison in the city. He gives him the opportunity to escape and to go home. Will the murderer accept it?

In ‘The artist at work’ a painter puts his fate (all his works) into the hands of a middleman. Will there be solidarity (kingdom) or solitariness (exile)?

In 'The growing Stone’ a man promises to carry a huge stone in a religious procession in order to save his life. Through exhaustion he fails to reach the church (his kingdom), but his heavy task is taken over by a foreigner? Will he be saved?

Everyone should read these brilliantly written incredible stories with their most surprising ends.
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on 20 July 2013
A human prism is the lens that Camus offers to go through any of his stories. Talented to what I would call a sort of luminous darkness he always find those cracks on the wall in the midst of despair. The normality of the terrible functions as a kind of vindication and the uncanny offers exclusive hints to the otherwise common and unattractive. These stories celebrate humanity in the brink of abyss. They are existentialist in their own way and even abominable but still have a call to action. They give a voice to the voiceless and unveils their lack of hope. We may recognize the last register of Camus along this book the same that he harps on in the posthumous The First Man, considered a sort of biography of his own life. Enjoyable and persistent.
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on 28 April 2009
This collection of six short stories explores the issues of alienation experienced by people who find themselves outsiders in social environments where their social and emotional ties are complex, particularly those involving colonialism. Camus was uniquely qualified to consider such situations, because of his colonial background and because of his stunning command of vivid imagery. The stories cover a wide geographical span, from France to Brazil, and many different aspects of the alienation process. The writing is achingly vivid and alive, and the book shows a much broader view of an author who is widely acknowledged as a master, but mostly for his `bigger' novels.
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on 8 October 2013
Most of us only know Camus by his novels but he was also a fine journalist and writer of short stories. This collection contains the best of his shorter works. Each is unique and most are set in Camus' Algeria.

If you are unfamiliar with the novels, then this is an excellent introduction to the work of one of the greatest French stylists and a novelist of extraordinary power and perception.
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on 9 July 2014
god book
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on 1 September 2007
This is probably my favourite book of all time. Five wonderful stories, sad and thought provoking. Not an easy read but in my opinion very life affirming.
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on 8 April 2001
This book would serve as a useful introduction to the world of Albert Camus and existentialism. The stories are generally set in Camus' native Algeria and deal with his usual themes. An exception is the light and witty final tale of the life of an artist in Paris.
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