Camus and Sartre

Albert Camus was born one hundred years ago tomorrow, and the occasion is being marked in various ways. The TLS Recently had a review of his writings on Algeria, his homeland. Spiegel-online today has a good essay on the relationship between Camus and Sartre and how they eventually came to represent, as some of his can remember, the two sides of a great ideological divide in the fifteen years between the end of the Second World War and Camus’ tragic death in 1960. I read and liked Sartre’s essay on existentialism–especially on the self-constitutive role of freedom–but didn’t much like his novel Nausea.  On the other hand, I liked Camus’s novels more than his philosophical writings, and I still remember how affected I was as I perfected my French by reading the brief essays in his Carnets in the early 1960's. Camus seems to have been much the better as a human being; while he seems to have been a man of great integrity and honesty, there does not seem to have been much to admire in Sartre the man.

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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