Friday, February 4, 2011

A Reading Treasure

An aspect of the panic that set in when I realized that I would be spending a couple days off work because of my ice-slip was that I had just finished Brian Boyd's two-volume biography of Vladimir Nabokov, approximately 1400 pages (absolutely great) and had nothing new to read. Luckily there were a couple issues of The New Yorker (passed on to me by a friend at work) but they didn't last long. And I can always re-read some books from my shelves. Proust, for one -- I can open any one of the six volumes of In Search of Lost Time to any page and be immediately riveted and entertained. I can also always re-read something by Violette LeDuc, usually Mad in Pursuit.  But the truth is that for over forty years my emergency-backup has most often been the book pictured above, which I bought new in 1968 for $6.95 -- a rare hardbook purchase; in those days $6.95 was a serious splurge, but what a great investment! There are several excellent essays in this collection but two in particular -- "Return to Tipasa"and "Between Yes and No" --I have read twenty times if I've read them once.

Camus is most famous for his novel "The Stranger". I suppose it's assigned reading in countless literature courses. Having been born in Algeria, he was the first person from the continent of Africa to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1957), and one of the youngest.  His blood, though, was European; a French father, a Spanish mother; so referring to him as the first African Nobelist is rather like presidential candidate John Kerry's wife, born in Madagascar, referring to herself as an African-American; the difference is that Teresa Kerry was born to wealth; Camus had a wretchedly poor upbringing, his father having been killed in World War I;and Camus was more Algerian than European in character and outlook.

I remember sitting in the Mess Hall in Germany reading in a front-page article of Stars and Stripes that Camus had been killed in an automobile accident on January 4, 1960.  

Laurmarin, Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France

1 comment:

  1. Hold for post? We're still waiting for the photo from 2/3/11 !!