One of major contemporary writers of the 20th century, Albert Camus was born in Algeria in 1913. In his lifetime, he published three novels, a collection of short stories, two philosophical works and several plays and essays. Ponderings on existence, absurdity of human life, its meaning and the fragility of human mind were the recurring themes in his works.
A staunch critic of human hypocrisy, he questioned the internal philosophy of revolutions and social innovations that were happening in the French society at the time and which didn’t create the social and systemic change that was the rallying cry of those movements. When many of his contemporaries including Sartre leaned towards the clear roads of liberalism and communism, Camus searched for a more humane alternative while not completely rejecting the ideals of these ideologies. His search was fuelled by the thought of the exclusive nature of the many existing ideologies and an apprehension towards its excesses in the modern society. Thus, Camus acquires much importance in the current times where these social institutions and liberal ideologies are questioned and the society as a whole seems to move towards a scary uniformity.
In his initial works like The Outsider and The Myth of Sisyphus, we find him questioning the silence of the universe towards man’s search for meaning. His existential musings underlined with a mute and chaotic nature of the universe made him question the legitimacy of human life and the hopeful social institutions of religion. “My mother died yesterday. Or maybe today. I don’t know”, the famous quote by Camus from The Stranger stands as pointer to the kind of detachment his characters felt from society, human relationships and from the meaningless nature of it. In The Rebel, he advocates the need for a creative tension and balance between total affirmation and total negation that is existent in great art forms. Not an arm-chair intellectual, Camus was active in the political struggles of his times and played a major role in the resistance movement against the Nazi occupation of France. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in the year 1957. His most recognised works include The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus, The Outsider and The Fall.