At only 22 pages long, this is a short and sweet read. This a collection of two essays by Camus: The Sea Close By and Summer in Algiers. The former is about the sea whilst the latter is about the city and so these two essays compliment each other very well in this short collection.
This little book is absolutely beautiful with quote after quote after quote that will make your heart swell. I have to admit, I didn't understand what Camus was getting at sometimes but this didn't bother me because the way in which he expresses himself is just sublime. In order to truly appreciate this piece of work, I imagine one would have to read it incredibly slowly and carefully so as not to miss one single adjective. Whilst reading this, I felt like I had been transported to another world because Camus descriptions are so real and so beautiful.
For me, reading this was definitely more style over substance. I don't feel that these works had a particular aim or purpose other than for Camus to put his thoughts down, and my, what beautiful thoughts. Both of these essays are observations, not stories, so you're really just following a trail of thought.
All in all, I wouldn't expect much more from this little book than 22 pages of the most beautiful writing you've ever read. If writing in books wasn't one of my pet peeves, I would've definitely highlighted passages of this book so that I could remember my favourite parts. That said, I probably would've highlighted the entire novel. The Sea Close By is a lovely little booklet that one could spend a summer afternoon devouring. It's also the sort of book that you can pick up time and time again, flick to a random page, read a random passage and just sigh at the beauty of life. Highly recommended.
on 11 February 2016
More a booklet than a book, THE SEA CLOSE BY contains two of Albert Camus's essays. On the surface there isn't much to these stories other than the stunningly beautiful prose. But, dig deeper - read the words again and again, and these two essay become allegories: the sea (in THE SEA CLOSE BY) for life itself and Algiers (in SUMMER IN ALGIERS) for adulthood.
The joys and challenges of the sea journey so vividly described ["we bend beneath savage winds blowing endlessly ... Each cry we utter is lost, flies off into limitless space ..."] correlate with the ups and downs of our small, ordinary lives, tossed in the vastness of an unknowable universe in the same way the boat is driven by "the imperious wind." The primordial "antique sea", in endless motion, is both the bringer of life and the taker of life; like life itself, the source of both humanity's "unbearable anxiety" and "irresistible charm."
Although ending on a glimmer of hope, the adult human doesn't fare so well in "Summer in Algiers." Camus observes the harshness of the summer's heat on mankind and how young virile men, lose their beauty and their hope in remorseless heat of the land. ["they wagered on the flesh, knowing they would lose"] We, as humans, live knowing we will die and as the young men in Algiers "haste to live that borders on waste", we squander our youth and burn our passion out too soon. This illusion of living, of indulging in experiences, Camus says leads to an old age without much love or hope for a man (or woman, one assumes!); only a waiting, a merciless "end between his wife and his children."
Despite his melancholic condemnation of "hope" as the most awful of the ills released on humanity by the opening of Pandora's box, Camus ends his description of Algiers with the first autumn rainfall. As we enter the last phase of physical existence after the "bitter lesson" of summer, we are liberated by our tears from the "violence and hardening" of a youth spent too fast. As he ages, and exchanges hope for an acceptance of life's harsh realities, Camus implies, man can, at last, awaken to the "only really virile love in this world," the fleeting union of two states of being - life and death.
Highly recommended for the sheer joy of reading such lyrical, profound prose.
on 16 June 2016
Part of the Penguin Classics campaign celebrating 100 years of Albert Camus, 'A Sea Close By' reveals the writer as a sensual witness of landscapes, the sea and sailing.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a perfect introduction to Camus.
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