The Thought and Art of Albert Camus

By Thomas Hanna | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
A LAST WORD ABOUT
THE ABSURD

WE HAVE followed the "few familiar ideas" of the thought of Albert Camus, and we have seen them "polished" and "transformed" during a decade of peace, war, occupation, and liberation. These few ideas which Camus calls his own are those which spring from solitude. The general mode in which these ideas are expressed is in the relation between man, as an individual, and the universe. And within this context Camus has maintained that, from the point of view of our immediate personal experience, this relation is characterized by absurdity. Camus feels that the absurdity of this relation is demonstrated by two undeniable elements in human experience, i.e., (1) the strange, inhuman flux of the universe in face of our desire for a unified and familiar universe and (2) the destiny of total death which can be neither escaped nor understood. Man, the world, and the Absurd: these are the concerns of the early phase of the thought of Albert Camus.

In our analysis of the thought of Camus it has been seen that from Noces there is a direct movement into the problems of The Stranger, and that, subsequently, The Myth of Sisyphus and the two plays are an aberration from the problems as first set forth, this aberration being justified as an experiment in absurdist reasoning. This experiment can only be seen as an aberration, because it draws logical consequences from the premise of the total absurdity of the universe, a premise which is not present in Noces or The Stranger. In the latter two works the awareness of death and of the inhuman character of the world does not negate the beauty and fascination

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