The star of the cool existentialist look, writer Albert Camus, was honored and rediscovered at the book fair.
Albert Camus without a turtleneck sweater. Image: imago /United Archives
The black turtlenecks have long been discarded, but the star of the cool existentialist look of the last century is back: Albert Camus. This November, he would turn 100. In photos, he smiles like Humphrey Bogart, amused, sexy, cigarette in the corner of his mouth. Camus was also "our" star. His novel "The Plague" got under our skin and answered questions about the meaning of life even before we asked them.
Camus’ philosophy was as cool as the outfit. We wanted both. It’s hard to imagine that there was another, private Camus. One who did not fit at all into the image of the intellectual Parisian scene, who was sensual, hungry for life, and hopelessly addicted to the Mediterranean?
It is a nice birthday present from Arche Verlag to bring the poetic side of the philosopher back to mind with a new edition of Camus’ "Marriage of Light". The way Camus makes the landscape of his childhood and youth in Algiers the starting point for beautiful poetic meditations is stunning. Impressions as if conjured up by the master in yoga class, when he animates us to dream journeys. And so intense that at some point the sea water tingles on the skin and the sun dazzles.
Camus writes of the light, the wind, the smells, the sea, but above all he evokes the happiness of feeling embedded in the here and now of this elemental world. Was he therefore an escapist nature mystic, as Parisian intellectuals around Sartre characterized him?
The meditations of Albert Camus do not lead to spiritual emptiness, but to fullness. His places of power are real, suspended in the treasure of memories of childlike, timeless feelings of happiness in a real world.
"Without heaven, earth, stars, Camus felt buried alive," says his biographer Iris Radisch. Camus reveals a need for nature with which he can entice us today more than ever. Meditation – all well and good. But following Camus is not wrong either.