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Grenier oversaw Camus's thesis on "Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism," a subject that attracted master and pupil alike for its intrinsic interest--a comparison of two high points of the human spirit, one Christian, one pagan--but also because it was a subject that had engaged a great ancient predecessor in the region, St. Augustine. Both were open to a larger horizon than was typical among contemporary intellectuals. Or as Camus was to formulate it later, Grenier "prevented me from being a humanist in the sense that it is understood today--I mean a man blinded by narrow certainties." Contrary to almost the whole of modern French thought, Camus believed that it was better to be "a good bourgeois than a bad intellectual or a mediocre writer," and he and Grenier strove to avoid the vanity and self-deception endemic to French intellectuals.

Both had intermittent attractions to Christianity, especially Catholicism, because, as Grenier put it, it reflected the principle that there is "no truth for man that is not incarnated." And Grenier could be merciless toward what he believed was a "dilettantism of despair" among many French intellectuals. But they were also put off by the harsh tone of many people in the French Church at the time, which seemed particularly offensive because of the Church's historical failings, as they saw it. Camus confesses at one point: "Catholic thought always seems bittersweet to me. It seduces me then offends me. Undoubtedly, I lack what is essential." That may be true, but it is also a sad commentary on Catholic history in France that these two good men, flawed and perhaps blinded as they may have been by certain modern intellectual currents, felt such ambivalence. The sense of guilt (personal and universal) in the later Camus is so palpable and profound that many people believe that had he not died at age 47, he would have eventually become a Christian. It's a pious wish, but I have always thought it ignored certain invincible circumstances. These letters have not changed my mind.
    -Master and Pupil (Robert Royal, July/August 2003, Crisis)

There is the hint of a possible substitute father in the life of Camus...perhaps this is why Camus was more a reluctant than a militant atheist. In short, the presence of a positive and effective father, or father-figure, seems to be a strong antidote to atheism.
    -Paul Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism


Grade: (B)


Albert Camus Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Albert Camus
    -LETTER: 21 January (1948): Albert Camus to Jean Grenier
    -ESSAY: What Albert Camus’s The Stranger Says About Our Contemporary Anxieties: Kate Christensen on Finding Inspiration in the Existentialist Classic (Kate Christensen, November 30, 2023, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: Camus and the Crisis of the West: The Rebel considers what happens when human beings are unwilling to live within the limits placed on them by the cosmos. (Graham Mcaleer, 8/18/23, Law & Liberty)
    -ESSAY: Albert Camus on suicide, absurdity, and the meaning of life: Albert Camus was a Franco-Algerian philosopher with some great insights on the meaning of life, why you should look to this life and not the next, and why suicide is a poor choice. (Scotty Hendricks, 3/20/23, Big Think)
    -ESSAY: Orwell, Camus and truth: On honesty as an attitude (William Fear, 12 March, 2023, The Critic)
    -ESSAY: Camus’s Atheism and the Virtues of Inconsistency (Craig DeLancey, 1/21/20, Culturico)
    -ESSAY: Influencing the Young Albert Camus: Perspectives on Jean Grenier (Jesse Mosqueda, January 3, 2017, Fragments of History)
    -ESSAY: Is Human Suffering Metaphysical Or Mundane? (Dwight Furrow, 1/23/23, 3 Quarks)
    -ESSAY: The philosopher who resisted despair: Albert Camus and the search for solace in a cruel age. (Sean Illing, May 28, 2022, Vox)
    -ESSAY: Is It Ironic That Life Is Absurd? (Tim Sommers, 5/16/22, 3 Quarks)
    -ESSAY: Can France resist tribalism?: Albert Camus agonised over his divided country (BOYD TONKIN, 1/02/22, UnHerd)
    -VIDEO: Camus: The Madness of Sincerity
    -PODCAST: Camus (Melvyn Bragg, 8/11/19, BBC In Our Time)
    -VIDEO: Albert Camus: The Madness of Sincerity — 1997 Documentary Revisits the Philosopher’s Life & Work (Open Culture, November 30th, 2014)
-ESSAY: Without God or Reason: Albert Camus faced the human condition with clarity. (Morten Høi Jensen, January 6, 2021, Commonweal)
    -ESSAY: On Albert Camus’s Legendary Postwar Speech at Columbia University: “The years we have gone through have killed something in us.” (Robert Meagher, November 10, 2021, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: Who are You Calling an Existentialist?! in “Albert Camus and the Human Crisis” (ROSS COLLIN, NOVEMBER 3, 2021, Chicago Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: Of course Albert Camus was a goalkeeper. (Emily Temple, February 16, 2021, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: Without God or Reason: Albert Camus faced the human condition with clarity. (Morten Høi Jensen, December 24, 2020, Commonweal)
    -ESSAY: Reading Camus in Time of Plague and Polarization: The French Algerian writer steadfastly defended democracy and humanity against dogmatic ideologies of all stripes. We need to read and reread him today. (MUGAMBI JOUET, 12/07/20, Boston Review)
    -ESSAY: How Camus and Sartre split up over the question of how to be free: If the idea of freedom bound Camus and Sartre philosophically, then the fight for justice united them politically. (SAM DRESSER, 19 July, 2020, Big Think)
    -ESSAY: Camus and the Neo-Cons: More in Common Than They Might Suspect (EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, February 7, 2004, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Albert Camus: Camus has overtaken Sartre to become the popular hero of existentialism. Now even his views on Algeria have outgrown Sartre (Paul Barker, December 2003, The Prospect)
    -ESSAY: Camus as Conservative: A post 9/11 reassessment of the work of Albert Camus (Murray Soupcoffm, Iconoclast)
    -ESSAY: To be a man: Albert Camus' vision in The Plague was bleak, but his study in terrorism is also a fable of redemption (Marina Warner, April 26, 2003, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: 'This one's had a good start born in the middle of a move.': This is how Albert Camus, alias Jacques Cormery in the novel, was born - Camus called it his War and Peace, but after he was killed his friends suppressed the First Man for fear it would undermine his reputation. Antoine De Gaudemar of Libération on the novel held back for 34 years (Antoine de Gaudemar, April 16, 1994, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Personal Writing by Albert Camus (Robert Zaretsky, LA Review of Books)
    -POEM: Death and the Sun: An original poem from 1986 (Derek Mahon, Times Literary Supplement)

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