21 September, 2020

A Vision Vindicated

Camus' unfinished masterpiece reveals the writer's inner tensions

A Vision Vindicated
ALBERT Camus was killed in a road accident in January 1960. Not far from his car which had crashed into a tree, police found a black leather briefcase covered with slush. It contained a passport, a newspaper, some photographs and letters, Nietzsche's The Gay Science, a French translation of Othello and a manuscript running into 144 hand-written pages. We know from his published diaries that he had been working on it as early as in 1947. His tragic end generated much curiosity about the contents of this unfinished work.

That curiosity was heightened when Camus' widow, Francine, refused to publish the manuscript. In her editor's note, specially written for the English translation, Catherine, Camus' daughter, explains why her mother took the decision she did and why she, in turn, chose to overturn that decision in the early '90s. The two explanations are significant in many respects.

The reason why Francine Camus did not allow the publication of Le Premier Homme was quite simply because of the prevailing intellectual atmosphere in 1960. Camus was the...



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