A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning

A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning

Hardback

By (author) Robert Zaretsky

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  • Publisher: The Belknap Press
  • Format: Hardback | 210 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 185mm x 25mm | 318g
  • Publication date: 7 November 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0674724763
  • ISBN 13: 9780674724761
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 38,944

Product description

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Albert Camus declared that a writer's duty is twofold: "the refusal to lie about what one knows and the resistance against oppression." These twin obsessions help explain something of Camus' remarkable character, which is the overarching subject of this sympathetic and lively book. Through an exploration of themes that preoccupied Camus--absurdity, silence, revolt, fidelity, and moderation--Robert Zaretsky portrays a moralist who refused to be fooled by the nobler names we assign to our actions, and who pushed himself, and those about him, to challenge the status quo. Though we do not face the same dangers that threatened Europe when Camus wrote "The Myth""of Sisyphus" and "The Stranger," we confront other alarms. Herein lies Camus' abiding significance. Reading his work, we become more thoughtful observers of our own lives. For Camus, rebellion is an eternal human condition, a timeless struggle against injustice that makes life worth living. But rebellion is also bounded by self-imposed constraints--it is a noble if impossible ideal. Such a contradiction suggests that if there is no reason for hope, there is also no occasion for despair--a sentiment perhaps better suited for the ancient tragedians than modern political theorists but one whose wisdom abides. Yet we must not venerate suffering, Camus cautions: the world's beauty demands our attention no less than life's train of injustices. That recognition permits him to declare: "It was the middle of winter, I finally realized that, within me, summer was inextinguishable."

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Review quote

In the beautifully titled and beautifully written "A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning," historian Robert Zaretsky considers Camus s lifelong quest to shed light on the absurd condition, his yearning for a meaning or a unity to our lives, and its timeless yet increasingly timely legacy A remarkable read in its entirety.--Maria Popova"Brain Pickings" (10/01/2014)"