Friday, January 04, 2008

Challenging Ideas

Albert Camus

"The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor."  - Albert Camus 

It has been 48 years since the day that Albert Camus died in a car crash outside of Paris. He was 47 years old and had been in the final stages of completing a novel entitled The First Man. While this novel is considered by some critics to be his masterpiece, I do not regard it as highly as his earlier novel, The Plague. This is the story of Dr. Rieux and several other people in the town of Oran who must deal with an outbreak of the Bubonic plague. As with many great books it can be read on many levels, however I find the actions of Dr. Rieux, in spite of his apparent world weariness early in the novel, to exemplify the possibility of creating meaning in one's life. The journalist Rambert who assists Dr. Rieux, while also ambivalent, can be seen in a similar light. The questions raised by the novel, including its attitude toward traditional religion, bear repeated readings and thoughtful contemplation. I would highly recommend this as a good book to begin to explore the challenging ideas of Albert Camus.

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