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Evolution de l'amour dans l'oeuvre d'Albert Camus Celli, Floyd Dominic

Abstract

This thesis proposes that love, in Camus' writings, undergoes an evolution of considerable importance. In the early works of Camus appear numerous kinds of love, each containing, to a certain degree, an element of egotism. Among these are filial love, love of nature, and romantic love. All of these tend to undergo a parallel evolution, however, each one moving to a higher plane where, eventually, they all converge at one meeting-point. This meeting-point is simply another kind of love, but a purer form, free of any narcissistic traits. In order to comprehend fully the scope of this evolution, it is essential to examine all of Camus' writings, including his journalism, theatre, essays, and stories. Those factors which influenced, either directly or indirectly, his attitudes towards love must also be considered. The most important of these are his family, the Algerian milieu where he grew up, his participation in the underground newspaper Combat during World War II, and the chaotic political situation in the world during the 1940's. Central also to this study are Camus' attitudes towards art and his conception of the artist's role. These attitudes are made quite explicit in his Discours de Suède, which he presented upon acceptance of the Nobel Prize in 1957. According to Camus, the artist is the spokesman for the oppressed. Through his writings he must endeavor to unite all men by opposing all that tends to separate them. By denouncing injustice, and condemning tyrannies and dictatorships, he affirms his solidarity with all mankind. During the war, which exercised a strong effect on the evolution of love in Camus’ work, these ideas are put into effect as he begins to write for Combat. Aware of the atrocities committed daily, and of the terrifying cruelties imposed upon millions of human beings, he adopts an entirely new outlook toward his fellow man. No longer is revolt an individual effort for Camus, but rather an experience shared by many. Revolt now becomes a means of unifying men, not of separating them. As Camus becomes more and more concerned with the theme of revolt, egotism gradually disappears in his heroes. Love of nature also ceases to have any real importance in Camus' work as he devotes himself to mankind. Refusing to turn his back to the difficulties of his times, he exiles himself from the land of his youth, where he was once in harmony with the universe. Filial love, associated with this land of innocence and happiness, tends to disappear also, as his characters, like Doctor Rieux in La Peste, put aside their personal interests in order to help other men. And, finally, romantic love is condemned to failure, for the heroes of La Peste, L'Etat de Siège, and Les Justes, all consider their duty to mankind to be of greater consequence. Although a universal love is the final development in the evolution of Camusian love, a conflict between this love and a narcissistic longing for solitude echoes throughout his literature. This conflict, never resolved, appears in L'Envers et l'Endrolt, La Chute, and "Jonas ou l'artiste au travail." Unlike Clamence who, to solve this conflict, becomes a hypocrite, or Jonas who goes mad, Camus submerges his egotistical longings and devotes himself to humanity. His sense of solidarity is much stronger than his concern for self. Throughout Camus' writings, then, can be seen an evolution In which he seeks to purify his love, by freeing it of any egotistical traits, and enlarging it so as to embrace all mankind. In the words of Albert Camus are the professions of one of the great humanists of the twentieth century.

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