Saturday, December 10, 2016




Camus stands erased from his own Algeria . His name stands removed from Books . No Literature book mentions him. His works are not sold in book stalls and no Library stores them . No memorial and nothing to make you feel that this Great writer was born and brought up in this country that he proudly claimed his own and that he loved intensely. For any outsider ,  Camus is the bigger  reason to  bear in mind  a country called Algeria.  That way , Camus can be described as the real representative of that country .

Catherine Camus , his Daughter also informs us :

“ Camus is regarded as a colonist and that is what is taught in Schools”

It remains a fact that Camus belonged to an extremely poor family of French immigrants. His mother worked as House  maid  . His father died of a gun wound in world war I.Prior to that , he worked  in a vineyard . The family lived in Joint  working class settlements  with local  Arabs .

I am informed that there is a select group of writers ( surely with Marginal Voice ) who feel about this disservice to a person who should otherwise have been a National Hero. A person who Presented Algeria to the world . A person who earned Nobel prize essentially for Two Books “ Outsider” and “Plague “ , Both set and written with Algeria in the Background. Algeria is the country that comes up in his works when he writes about Sunshine , Sea Breeze, Beaches , Swimming , Rocks , Date Palms , Blue water of Mediterranean , Hills and soccer .

He obtained a degree in Philosophy from University of Algiers in 1936 and in 1938, he joined as reporter for ”Algerian Republic” . During that period , camus truthfully covered Murder Trials , Famines and neglect of locals or Arabs by French rulers/ colonists . Quite often facing the wrath of the establishment . As a result of his anti Establishment Stance , The paper was shut down and Camus blacklisted .

Tipasa ( In Algeria ) has been mentioned in great detail by Camus. About this place ,He wrote :

“ In springtime , Gods dwell in Tipasa . They speak through the sun , wormwood perfume , the sea in tits silver armor and the great bubbles of light in piles of Rocks “

Camus’s loud song  of Existentialism that a reader comes across in bhis Novel  “ THE  OUTSIDER “ was also born in Algerian landscape . So was his Metaphor “ BENIGN INDIFFERENCE OF THE UNIVERSE “ , a mystical product of Algerian landscape.
It is only on an Algerian sea beach and Under the Blazing sun, Meursault , the Hero in his Novel OUTSIDER , fires four shots from the gun to “ Destroy the Balance of the day and give four sharp knocks at the door of Unhappiness. “

Again his masterpiece " PLAGUE" is set and written against the background of Oran , a coastal town of Algeria .This philosophical work is written in the background of a devastating Plague that visited this town in 1849 following French Colonization.

It was again Oran ( Algeria ) where Camus met Francine , His beautiful wife who was an accomplished pianist. They set up a home in Oran and lived there for some time.

It was in an Algerian School where he joined to play  favourite game FOOTBALL.   He played as  goalkeeper so  that his shoes would not wear off because his  family could not afford new shoes.

In a way , It is difficult to look at   Camus’s  prominent works without Algerian landscape.

The Algerian War for Independence started in 1954, created many issues for camus who had always considered himself Algerian. At that time , one million French citizens lived in Algeria, three-quarters of them born there. He was a supporter of the then Arab leader Farhat Abbas .

Camus was always sympathetic to Arab cause. He possibly got wrongly identified with Pied Noirs ( Black Foot ) , a name given to French settlers after Algeria was conquered by France in 19th century .For his Algeria , he always sought a middle path from French Government . He was always supportive of an ideology that ensured peaceful Coexistence and blessedness of life .Though he refused to support killings, violence and gun culture of Algerian freedom fighters , he always intervened and saved the lives of many Arabs put in Jail. As an established and influential writer , Camus raised his powerful voice against Death penalty 
About the violence that killed so many people he wrote :

“ Some people  are planting bombs in tramways . May be my mother is on that tramway, if you feel that is justice , then I am with my mother.”

In the din and bloodshed of present turmoil and fighting between Religious  Militant groups and the Government forces in Algeria , Memory of Camus is no Priority for any person . And Terrorism in Algeria can not be the sole reason for camus’s Neglect. It happened much before .

Yes there is a residual trace of Camus in Algeria ; An old tombstone Monument near Tipasa sea that was erected by his friends after he died in the Car accident in 1960. Alas ! This residual trace has also been defaced and Vandalized . The Inscription put by his friends has also withered away by sea winds , dust and abandon. It is not visible any more.

For all Algerians , he always remained a sympathizer and a well wisher . And he rightly wrote :

“ Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

( Autar Mota )

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