Category: Camus, Albert

mourn for that other country — “The First Man” by Albert Camus

first man

[CN: settler colonialism, violence, racism]

A thought that arose more than once while reading AC’s final unfinished novel for a class assignment: Man, im bummed he died in a car wreck at 46. ive read a remark somewhere that the universe took him out when he was only just starting to rev up in his art, and it’s hard to disagree now. The book is overflowing with gorgeous language, as EXILE AND THE KINGDOM is, and the tone is relaxed while painstakingly sifting through childhood memories for every last tactile detail, every procedure of daily life, striving to recover as much as possible before the past is totally lost. (Applause to David Hapgood and Justin O’Brien who translated these two books respectively.)

For Camus the French Algeria of his youth is a space abandoned by history. He is indeed a “first man” as everyone there is, torn from a common past or heritage. In this novel he tries to bear witness to the experiences of the pied-noir, although there’s a gnarly political context that ill try to address below.