Camus: The Life and Writings of Absurdity

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Camus: The Life and Writings of Absurdity

Camus was born in a small town in eastern Algiers on November 7, 1913. His father (Lucien August Camus) died in 1914 after being shot in the Battle of Marne in W.W.I. Camus was raised by his mother (Catherine Helene Sintes Camus) until he was seventeen, in a working-class section of town. "Sintes," his mother's maiden name was also Raymond Sintes' last name in the novel The Stranger. She was illiterate and became partially deaf after she was widowed. Her husband's body was never returned to her, but a fragment of the shell that killed him along with a picture of him was displayed in the apartment where they lived (Todd 4-6).

The Camus family was poor and struggled to make ends meet, but somehow kept on living. Albert however did go to a "snobbish" chic high school, despite his mother's illiteracy. The school was right next to the ocean, which could be seen from most of the classrooms. This is the beginning of Camus' fascination and love for the ocean and the sun, which comes through in many of his works (Todd 7-16).

Camus did however feel ashamed of his family, and was embarrassed by them. He escaped by excelling in sports and his schoolwork, but at home no one could relate to him nor could he share what he had learned because neither his mother nor his grandmother could understand what he was saying. In 1930, when Camus was seventeen, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis after becoming sick and coughing up blood (he had tuberculosis reoccurrence in 1938, 1942, 1949-50 and 1957 after his Nobel Prize). This caused him to leave school but he later returned, and he studied philosophy, politics, and how to become an educator. At this point he moved and lived with his Uncle Gustave. This setting provided him with a better economic life and a job as an office clerk (Todd 17-28).

In 1933-34, Camus began school at the University of Algiers and taught classes at a high school. He also had begun to write his first book Le Quartier Pauvre. He dated and later married Simone Hie, whom he divorced after two years because she prostituted herself to get money that was used to support her morphine habit.

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