In the half-century which has elapsed since Albert Camus died in January 1960, his reputation as a writer and thinker has undergone marked changes of fortune. During his lifetime, Camus was associated initially with theories of the absurd and existentialism, subsequently hailed as an opponent of totalitarianism in Europe, then widely criticized for his stance on decolonization in his native Algeria. Following his death, he was overshadowed for a time by his former friend and ideological adversary, Jean-Paul Sartre. Since the end of the Cold War, Camus's writings have been re-evaluated in a new geo-political context that has brought radical forms of Islam to the fore. Camus's standing today will be addressed at this international symposium by Raymond Gay-Crosier (University of Florida at Gainesville), Edward Hughes (Queen Mary, University of London), Pierre-Louis Rey (Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle), and Adrian Van Den Hoven (University of Windsor, Ontario).
All sessions take place in Diffenbaugh 009
11:15 am -12:15 pm
Adrian van den Hoven (University of Windsor, Ontario) –
"Getting Your Hands Dirty" or "Remaining Above the Fray": The Sartre/Camus Quarrel as Reinterpreted Since the Cold War
Chair: William J. Cloonan
|Raymond Gay-Crosier (University of Florida, Gainesville) -
Re-Editing Camus: Key Methodological Issues
Chair: James Tarpley
|Pierre-Louis Rey (Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle) -
Camus et la conscience politique des hommes du XXIe siècle
Chair: Aimée Boutin
|Edward Hughes (Queen Mary, University of London) –
"A Solitary Point on the Globe": Camus, Conflict, Art and Algeria
Chair: Alec G. Hargreaves
Raymond Gay-Crosier is Professor Emeritus of French at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He has published widely in 20th-century French literature, especially on Albert Camus. Until November 2009, he has been the founding Vice President of the Société des Études Camusiennes and from 1986 until 2009 the editor-in-chief of the Camus series (Lettres Modernes). Among his many titles on Camus are : Albert Camus: œuvre fermée, œuvre ouverte? (contributing co-ed., Gallimard,1984), Albert Camus : Paradigmes de l'ironie. Révolte et négation affirmative (Éd. Paratexte, 2000), and The Stranger (Gale Research, 2001). Most recently, he served as contributing co-editor of vols. I and II of Camus's Œuvres complètes (Gallimard, Pléiade, 2006) and editor-in-chief of vols. III and IV (2008).
Adrian van den Hoven is Professor of French at the University of Windsor (Ontario). He edited and translated (with David Sprintzen) Sartre and Camus. A Historic Confrontation (Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2004) and assisted Ronald Aronson with his study Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended it (University of Chicago Press, 2004). A past President of the North American Sartre Society, he co-edited Sartre Today: A Centenary Celebration (Oxford: Berghahn, 2005) and was Executive Editor of Sartre Studies International from 1995-2005.
Edward J. Hughes is Professor of French Studies at Queen Mary, University of London and currently President of the Society for French Studies (UK and Ireland). He is the author of Marcel Proust: a Study in the Quality of Awareness (Cambridge, C.U.P., 1983); Albert Camus: 'La Peste'/'Le Premier Homme' (University of Glasgow French and German Publications, 1995); and Writing Marginality in Modern French Literature: from Loti to Genet (Cambridge, C.U.P., 2001). He is the editor of the Cambridge Companion to Camus (Cambridge, C.U.P., 2007) and the author of a forthcoming monograph, Proust, Social Class and Nation.
Pierre-Louis Rey is Emeritus Professor of French at the Université de Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle and editor of the Revue d'Histoire Littéraire de la France. A specialist on 19th and 20th century fiction, he is the author of studies of Gobineau, Stendhal, Flaubert, Proust and other major figures. His works on Camus include Albert Camus: Une morale de la beauté (SEDES, 2000) and Camus: L'homme révolté (Gallimard, 2006). He was a contributing editor to the new edition of Camus's Œuvres complètes (Gallimard, Pléiade, 2006-2008) and has published editions of Camus's Caligula, Le Malentendu, L'État de siège, Les Justes et Les Possédés in Gallimard's "Folio-Théâtre" collection.
"Getting Your Hands Dirty" or "Remaining Above the Fray":
The Sartre/Camus Quarrel as Reinterpreted Since the Cold War
Adrian van den Hoven (University of Windsor, Ontario)
"Getting your hands dirty" or "remaining above the fray;" perhaps a false dichotomy, but these appeared to be the stark choices that faced public intellectuals such as Sartre and Camus after the start of the Cold War. Of course, matters were a lot more complicated than that and a proper appreciation of the Sartre/Camus quarrel since the death of communism as a viable ideology will require several steps.
Firstly, I will begin with a brief personal note explaining where I was in France and Europe in the early Fifties when certain dramatic events were taking place (the war in Indochina, the conflict in Algeria, the Hungarian uprising). Next, I will provide a rapid overview of the political transformations that shaped France, Europe and the world in the twentieth century. Thirdly, I will attempt to situate their quarrel within the huge political changes that were taking place everywhere and which impelled Sartre and Camus to adopt certain political stances. This will require a sketching out of their positions and how they were viewed then in order to make it possible to compare and contrast them with more recent points of view as they have evolved since 1989.
The final section, dealing with the last twenty years, will obviously absorb the lion's share of our presentation. Not only have the reputations of Sartre and Camus changed drastically but the global political scene continues to change dramatically. In this section I will pay particular attention to the comments by Sartre's and Camus's biographers and to those of recent commentators from North America and Europe. I will conclude by trying to answer the question if Sartre's and Camus's stances can still teach us worthwhile lessons today in a world that may have changed radically from theirs but which still faces similar formidable problems.
Re-Editing Camus: Key Methodological Issues
Raymond Gay-Crosier (University of Florida, Gainesville)
A brief review of the goals of the Pléiade series will be be followed by six sections : 1) genesis of the current four-volume edition starting with the two-volume edition prepared by Roger Quilliot; 2) identification of the main archival sources and their exploitation; 3) manuscripts vs typescripts (with visuals); 4) Gallimard's editorial protocol and the critical apparatus; 5) the practicality of interactive electronic editing (with visuals); 6) brief assessment of results.
Camus et la conscience politique des hommes du XXIe siècle
Pierre-Louis Rey (Université de la Sorbonne nouvelle)
Sartre écrivait au lendemain de la mort de Camus : « [Notre brouille] ne m'empêchait pas de penser à lui, de sentir son regard sur la page du livre, sur le journal qu'il lisait et de me dire : "Qu'en dit-il ? Qu'en dit-il en ce moment ? " ». Ces phrases, tous ceux qui se sentent proches de Camus ont envie de les prolonger : « S'il était témoin de l'actualité aujourd'hui, que penserait-il ? Que dirait-il ? ». Nous examinerons, à la lumière de ses positions, de ses espérances et de ses craintes, trois questions actuelles.
1) Peut-on envisager quelque chose qui ressemble à la « nouvelle culture méditerranéenne » qu'il appelait de ses vœux en 1937 ? Le fascisme et le franquisme ont été défaits ; les systèmes coloniaux du Maghreb ont disparu ; d'autres problèmes (la coexistence d'Israël et des nations arabes, la montée en puissance de l'islamisme) ont pris une dimension tragique. Son œuvre offre-t-elle des pistes pour réfléchir sur ces questions ?
2) On admet que Camus a eu raison contre les communistes et leurs « compagnons de route ». L'effondrement des totalitarismes de l'Est pouvait-il se lire en filigrane dans L'Homme révolté ? Les régimes qui ont remplacé l'ancienne Union Soviétique consacrent-ils ses espoirs ?
3) En quels termes se posent aujourd'hui les questions de la violence et de la justice ? Peut-on appliquer au terrorisme contemporain les réflexions qu'il a menées sur ce sujet dans Les Justes ou pendant la guerre d'Algérie ?
"A Solitary Point on the Globe"1: Camus, Conflict, Art and Algeria
Edward Hughes (Queen Mary, University of London)
Delivering his "Appel pour une trêve civile en Algérie" in Algiers in January 1956, Camus conveyed to his audience the tentative and ultimately vain hope that his intervention might help draw together a majority of Algerians, indigenous and French alike, "sans qu'ils aient à rien abandonner de leurs convictions" (Essais, p. 991). Yet alongside this will to collectivize and galvanize, Camus's intervention also suggests a brooding over the individual isolation affecting members of his audience: "si j'avais le pouvoir de donner une voix à la solitude et à l'angoisse de chacun d'entre nous, c'est avec cette voix que je m'adresserais à vous" (ibid.). The will to find such a voice may betoken engagement but it also indirectly signals the marginalisation of the writer in the face of intractable social conflict. Camus's silence on Algeria (announced formally at the end of the text "Algérie 1958") and his retreat into writing invite reflection on the place and limits of literature. In particular, it prompts us to revisit what Camus himself promoted as a symbiotic relationship linking the writer to his native Algeria. With reference to Camus's works of the 1950s (including Carnets III, Chroniques Algériennes, L'Exil et le Royaume and Le Premier Homme), the lecture explores Camus's withdrawal from the public arena and the ways in which his endeavour as a writer connects with and refracts the contested issues of that arena. "J'avais besoin de solitude comme de pain",2 Camus wrote from Lourmarin in May 1959: this assertion of a necessary self-centring implicitly provides the counterpoint to a socially situated literature.
1 A. Camus, 'Appel pour une trêve civile en Algérie', Essais (Paris, Gallimard (Editions de la Pléiade, 1965), p. 999.
2 Correspondance Albert Camus – Jean Grenier (Paris, Gallimard, 1981), ed. Marguerite Dobrenn, p. 226.