A Biography Of Albert Camus And The

Theory Of Existentialism Essay, Research Paper

A Biography of Albert Camus

Albert Camus was a French-Algerian novelist, essayist, dramatist, and journalist and a Nobel laureate. He was born in Algeria to a French father and Spanish mother. After his father was killed in WWI, he was raised in poverty by his grandmother and mother. He was forced to end his studies and limit his life in theatre as a playwright, director, and actor due to tuberculosis. He then turned his interest to politics and, after briefly being a member of the Communist party, he began a career in journalism in 1930. His articles reflected the suffering of the Arabs in Algeria. This led him to his dismissal of his newspaper job. Later, he worked in Paris for a newspaper and soon he became involved in Resistance movements against the Germans. He started writing an underground newspaper. Camus wrote many novels and his writings, illustrated his view of the absurdity of human existence: Humans are not absurd, and the world is not absurd, but for humans to be in the world is absurd. In his opinion, humans cannot feel at home in the world because they yearn for order, clarity, meaning, and eternal life, while the world is chaotic, obscure, and indifferent and offers only suffering and death. Thus human beings are alienated from the world. Integrity and dignity require them to face and accept the human condition as it is and to find purely human solutions to their plight. He used a simple and clear but elegant form of writing to convey his ideas about morality, justice and love. In 1957, Camus received the Nobel price for literature. He was deeply troubled by the Algerian War of Independence and he immersed himself in the theatre and working on an autobiographical novel. He died in an automobile accident just before being named director of the national theater.

The Theory of Existentialism

Existentialism as a distinct philosophical and literary movement belongs to the 19th and 20th centuries. Although existentialism is impossible to define, some of its common themes can be identified. One of the major theme is the stress on concrete individual existence and, consequently, on subjectivity, individual freedom, and choice. 19th century Danish philosopher S*ren Kierkegaard, was the first writer to call himself existential. He wrote in his journal, I must find a truth that is true for me . . . the idea for which I can live or die. Other existentialist writers echoed this belief that one must choose their own way without the aid of universal, objective standards. They argue that no objective moral basis can be found for moral decisions. The 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche even went on to say that the individual must decide which situations are to count as moral situations. All existentialists stress the importance of personal experience and acting on one s own convictions being the essential ways of arriving at a truth. Therefore, the understanding of a situation by someone involved takes priority over to that of an objective observer. This emphasis on the perception of individual agent also made existentialists suspicious of systematic reasoning, causing existentialist writers to deliberately unsystematic in revealing their philosophies and expressing themselves in dialogues, parables and other literary forms. One of the most prominent themes of such writing is that of humanity s freedom of choice, which is inescapable. Because of this, humans must accept the risk and responsibility of their decisions and their consequences.