In these original readings of Albert Camus' novels, short
stories, and political essays, David Carroll concentrates on Camus'
conflicted relationship with his Algerian background and finds
important critical insights into questions of justice, the effects
of colonial oppression, and the deadly cycle of terrorism and
counterterrorism that characterized the Algerian War and continues
to surface in the devastation of postcolonial wars today.
During France's "dirty war" in Algeria, Camus called for an end
to the violence perpetrated against civilians by both France and
the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and supported the
creation of a postcolonial, multicultural, and democratic Algeria.
His position was rejected by most of his contemporaries on the Left
and has, ironically, earned him the title of colonialist
sympathizer as well as the scorn of important postcolonial
Carroll rescues Camus' work from such criticism by emphasizing
the Algerian dimensions of his literary and philosophical texts and
by highlighting in his novels and short stories his understanding
of both the injustice of colonialism and the tragic nature of
Algeria's struggle for independence. By refusing to accept that the
sacrifice of innocent human lives can ever be justified, even in
the pursuit of noble political goals, and by rejecting simple,
ideological binaries (West vs. East, Christian vs. Muslim, "us" vs.
"them," good vs. evil), Camus' work offers an alternative to the
stark choices that characterized his troubled times and continue to
define our own.
"What they didn't like, was the Algerian, in him," Camus wrote
of his fictional double in The First Man. Not only should
"the Algerian" in Camus be "liked," Carroll argues, but the
Algerian dimensions of his literary and political texts constitute
a crucial part of their continuing interest. Carroll's reading also
shows why Camus' critical perspective has much to contribute to
contemporary debates stemming from the global "war on terror."
Subjects: Language & Literature, Political Science
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