"There is no love of life without despair of life."-These words haunted me when I first read this book nearly ten years ago. I then lent it out, never to be returned. (Ahem, I've become very cautious about lending books out since then.) Anyway, I just recently repurchased this book and reread it, and I still (unlike Camus' himself) regard the LYRICAL essays herein as much more beautiful, powerful and significant than the much touted The Stranger (which I, however, like as well, only on another level.)
It's quotes like the one above and "Knowing that certain nights whose sweetness lingers will keep returning to the earth and sea after we are gone, yes, this helps us die." that make this collection of essays Camus' best work.
The Stranger is, indeed, a unique contribution to post-WWII literature. But these essays are unique as well as powerful and beautiful. My bet is that, a century from now, these essays will be remembered long after the "existentialist" vogue has long faded, as Camus' best work.
My apologies to those who worship terse, arid prose. It has its place. But it's not the stuff of truly great literature. The lyrical essays contained herein are.