In writing The Stranger, Albert Camus championed the idea of existentialism, a philosophy he truly believed in it. But the philosophy of existentialism is not free of criticism. Herbert Marcuse criticized existentialism, especially in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, for projecting certain features of living in a modern, oppressive society, such as anxiety and meaninglessness, onto the nature of existence itself: “In so far as Existentialism is a philosophical doctrine, it remains an idealistic doctrine: it hypothesizes specific historical conditions of human existence into ontological and metaphysical characteristics. Existentialism thus becomes part of the very ideology which it attacks, and its radicalism is illusory” What Marcuse is saying here is that existentialism makes the mistake of thinking that just because human conditions are tragic and seem to lack a purpose, that they in fact do. Whether or not there is purpose to the universe is an ontological and metaphysical subject, not one that can be realized through historical events.
Camus returned to France in 1942 and a year later began working for the clandestine newspaper Combat, the journalistic arm and voice of the French Resistance movement. During this period, while contending with recurrent bouts of tuberculosis, he also published The Myth of Sisyphus, his philosophical anatomy of suicide and the absurd, and joined Gallimard Publishing as an editor, a position he held until his death.
The Stranger by Albert Camus Essay Essay Examples
The Rebel (L’Homme Revolte, 1951)—Camus considered this work a continuation of the critical and philosophical investigation of the Absurd that he began with The Myth of Sisyphus. Only this time his primary concern is not suicide but murder. He takes up the question of whether acts of terrorism and political violence can be morally justified, which is basically the same question he had addressed earlier in his play The Just Assassins. After arguing that an authentic life inevitably involves some form of conscientious moral revolt, Camus winds up concluding that only in rare and very narrowly defined instances is political violence justified. Camus’s critique of revolutionary violence and terror in this work, and particularly his caustic assessment of Marxism-Leninism (which he accused of sacrificing innocent lives on the altar of History), touched nerves throughout Europe and led in part to his celebrated feud with Sartre and other French leftists.