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Capsule Review

Camus at "Combat": Writing 1944-1947

In This Review

Camus at "Combat": Writing 1944-1947

Camus at "Combat": Writing 1944-1947
By Albert Camus. Edited and annotated by Jacqueline Lévi-Valens
Princeton University Press, 2005, 378 pp. $29.95 Purchase

These beautifully translated articles by Camus were originally published in the French Resistance newspaper Combat. In an introduction, David Carroll briefly analyzes the main themes: Camus' call for a new era of freedom (especially from terror) and social justice and his argument for the importance of the punishment of those guilty of atrocities, the imperative of justice in France's colonies (one of Camus' oldest concerns), and the need for a free and responsible press. Sixty years after they were first written, these texts remain fascinating for three reasons: they convey in admirable prose the evolution of France's postliberation mood, from high hopes and noble demands to disillusionment and new fears; they deal with the same themes that inform Camus' essays, novels, and plays, works of imagination that are nourished by his reflections and passions as a committed citizen of humankind; and they include little that is obsolete. Indeed, it is shocking to find how current Camus' fears, exhortations, and aspirations still are. His lucid pleas for at least saving "the bodies in order to keep open the possibility of a future," for "a modest political philosophy ... free of all messianic elements and devoid of any nostalgia for an earthly paradise," for an international democracy by mutual agreement -- all are as worth reading in 2006 as they were in 1946. Camus never wavered on a demand that many other philosophers and writers of his time deemed naive: for morality in politics, born out of a conviction that political choices are ethical in essence.

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