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.)
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Building on his former essay `The Myth of Sisiphus', where the view of an absurd world culminated in suicide, Albert Camus analyzes here rebellion against the absurd, the affirmation of life: `I rebel, therefore we exist'. He examines critically metaphysical and historical rebellion for freedom and man's dignity. Moreover, he asks the all important question: why are rebellions mostly ending in (and justifying) murder, under the flag of freedom or reason (logical crimes) with philosophy as an alibi? For A. Camus, the will to power takes the place of the will to justice.
Metaphysical rebellion The metaphysical rebel protests against his condition in the world, against the whole of the creation, its injustice and its evil, and also against death. The father of all rebels is Prometheus (`see the injustice I have to endure'). The Marquis de Sade proclaims unbridled personal freedom, absolute negation and universal destruction. Stirner proclaims universal affirmation of the self, while Nietzsche proclaims active nihilism: every man has to make his own laws. The surrealists also proclaim absolute personal freedom with `gratuitous acts' as satisfactions of one's instincts and one's unconscious. All those metaphysical rebels want to control totally their own world and construct for them a pure terrestrial kingdom.
Historical rebellion The history of man is the sum of his successive rebellions. Freedom and man's dignity are the motivating principles of all revolutions. But, when justice demands the suppression of freedom, terror consummates the revolution. Justice adopts violence and murder and the revolutionaries assume the responsibility of total guilt.
J.J. Rousseau formulated the concepts of the Republican State with law and order based on the general consent. Saint-Just wanted the Republic to be totally cleansed of all alien elements. Hegel's dialectic of master and slave (the conqueror is always right) culminates into the absolute State, `the reflection of the Spirit of the world in the mutual recognition of each by all.'
But, in the absolute State, the will to power replaced the will to justice. Fascism dreamed of liberating a minority by subjugating the rest. Building on Marx' prophesy of the abolition of the State, Lenin's professional revolutionaries organized Russian Communism aiming at liberating all men, but, by provisionally enslaving them all.
Trade-unionism Overall, man's dignity and living standard (freedom) have only been served, not by doctrine, dogmas or abstract concepts, but by concrete revolutionary trade-unionism. Only by organizing the labor force and by strikes have the working conditions been mightily improved from a 16 hour work day to a forty hour work week.
Albert Camus expressed impressively his personal views on the history and the deadly dangerous human rebellious condition, which are still highly relevant today. Not to be missed.Read more ›
Penguin have taken their liberties in making unnecessary edits of this book. As they excuse themselves: "Unfortunately in the interest of economy certain pages relating to some of these figures have been deleted in the English edition." On pages 198 - 199 there's a supposed quote from Lenin's lecture 'The State' of which the first two sentences are authentic, and the remainder are Camus's sarcastic commentary on them. This distinction is not visible in the Penguin edition. These are just 2 examples. I give this book 1 star. Not because of Camus', whose writing would deserve far better, but because of Penguin's editing. Buy another edition!
My following of Camus began back in 1999 during a summer holiday camp in France, I had recently read the Manic Street Preachers' official biography and there were many interesting references to Camus and his work throughout the book. I eventually borrowed "The Outsider" from the local library, and took a days rest at the holiday camp to sit down for a few hours, and read. Before I knew it I had finished "The Outsider" and thouroughly enjoyed it, although this book could not come near to what I had experienced with "The Rebel", which I began reading a year later. "The Rebel" was written to "understand the times" we live in, which was always a very broad subject to conquer in one seperate book. "The Rebel" is a seperate side to Camus' creative spectrum, this time with a more philisophical attempt at writing, although strongly iterates that this work is not philisophical, and he attempts to use no rhetoric or persuasion in his work. The ground covers in this book has a simillar vague feel to that of religeous book. In fact, Camus directs a more professional outlook to issues that are usually combatted through questionable metaphore or mis-directed philosiphy. Instead of using this method, he uses logic to prove or disprove people's theories or opinions, never once criticizing others through his own beliefs. Slavery and leadership is one of the key topics combatted in the book, and displays how much of an important ascpect on our lives these roles play. He questions our reasons to rebel against our leaders, what lengths we'll go to, to make our stands, why we do it and what the possible outcomes are to the rebellion. He goes on to look at the spectrum that could be considered the spectrum of our places in life, addressing fascism and wars to nihilists and rebellions of the past. Albert Camus offers no solutions, only options. This book discards the fictional creativity that people who have read "The last man" and "The Outsider" will have noticed, with literature offering his ideas. "The Rebel" is strictly in essay form, and describes so many aspects of life, always keeping to the main point "rebellion". Overall I found this book highly interesting (so much so, I have read it about 9 times since) and I'm sure any reader will appreciate Camus' ability to clarify such a vague topic, using masses of logical reason. I highly recomend this book to anyone with an open mind, or someone who seeks non-biased guidance on many aspects of life.Read more ›