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Albert Camus

Albert Camus


Author: Albert Camus

Dates: 7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960

Nationality: French

Title of Book: The Rebel

In every act of rebellion, the man concerned experiences not only a feeling of revulsion at the infringement of his rights but also a complete and spontaneous loyalty to certain aspects of himself. Thus he implicitly brings into play a standard of values so far from being false that he is willing to preserve them at all costs. Up to this point he has, at least, kept quiet and, in despair, has accepted a condition to which he submits even though he considers it unjust. To keep quiet is to allow yourself to believe that you have no opinions, that you want nothing, and in certain cases it amounts to really wanting nothing. Despair, like Absurdism, prefers to consider everything in general and nothing in particular. Silence expresses this attitude very satisfactorily. But from the moment that the rebel finds his voice – even though he has nothing to say but no – he begins to consider things in particular. In the etymological sense, the rebel is a turncoat. He acted under the lash of his master’s whip. Suddenly he turns and faces him. He chooses what is preferable and what is not. Not every value leads to rebellion, but every rebellion tacitly invokes a value. Or is it really a question of values?

An awakening of conscience, no matter how confused it may be, develops from any act of rebellion and is represented by the sudden realization that something exists with which the rebel can identify himself – even if only for a moment. Up to now this identification was never fully realized. Previous to his insurrection, the slave accepted demands made upon him. He even very often took orders, without reacting against them, which were considerably more offensive to him than the one at which he balked. He was patient and though, perhaps, he protested inwardly, he was obviously more careful of his own immediate interests – in that he kept quiet – than aware of his own rights. But with loss of patience – with impatience – begins a reaction which can extend to everything that he accepted up to this moment, and which is almost always retroactive. Immediately the slave refuses to obey the humiliating orders of his master, he rejects the condition of slavery. The act of rebellion carries him beyond the point he reached by simply refusing. He exceeds the bounds that he established for his antagonist and demands that he should now be treated as an equal. What was, originally, an obstinate resistance on the part of the rebel, becomes the rebel personified. He proceeds to put self-respect above everything else and proclaims that it is preferable to life itself. It becomes, for him, the supreme blessing. Having previously been willing to compromise, the slave suddenly adopts an attitude of All or Nothing. Knowledge is born and conscience awakened.

Brief Biography: Camus was an author, journalist and philosopher. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957.