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In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies

“I know only one single duty, and that is the duty to love,” Camus once wrote in his Carnets (NB I 54, OC II, 830). Marguerite La Caze’s culminating contribution to this collection undertakes a patient, quietly observant analysis of Camus’s competing statements on love, as these are played out in particular in the relationships staged for us in Camus’s incomplete last novel, Le Premier Homme. Camus, La Caze begins, was “acutely aware of the difficulties and incongruities of love: joy and despair, hopelessness, and the frequent lack of mutuality.” “The language Camus uses in Le Premier Homme to describe love is quite extraordinary,” La Caze observes: “Love is repeatedly called silent, hopeless (FM 160, OC IV 864), helpless (FM 95, OC IV 814), despairing (FM 133, OC IV 846), sorrowful, and a mystery.” There is the absent father, whose legacy and memory cannot be secured; the enigmatic silence of the mother for whom Cormery-Camus nevertheless feels overwhelming, hopeless love; the unchosen, ambivalent love of the boy for the violent uncle Earnest; and the moving affection Cormery feels for his school teacher M. Bernard, who first glimpsed his talents, and then his older mentor, Malan. What makes La Caze’s essay so quietly absorbing, even moving, is the descriptive phenomenological care with which she reconstructs each of these relationships, leaving any larger systematic conclusions at bay.

In: Brill's Companion to Camus
In: Feminist Alliances

“I know only one single duty, and that is the duty to love,” Camus once wrote in his Carnets (NB I 54, OC II, 830). Marguerite La Caze’s culminating contribution to this collection undertakes a patient, quietly observant analysis of Camus’s competing statements on love, as these are played out in particular in the relationships staged for us in Camus’s incomplete last novel, Le Premier Homme. Camus, La Caze begins, was “acutely aware of the difficulties and incongruities of love: joy and despair, hopelessness, and the frequent lack of mutuality.” “The language Camus uses in Le Premier Homme to describe love is quite extraordinary,” La Caze observes: “Love is repeatedly called silent, hopeless (FM 160, OC IV 864), helpless (FM 95, OC IV 814), despairing (FM 133, OC IV 846), sorrowful, and a mystery.” There is the absent father, whose legacy and memory cannot be secured; the enigmatic silence of the mother for whom Cormery-Camus nevertheless feels overwhelming, hopeless love; the unchosen, ambivalent love of the boy for the violent uncle Earnest; and the moving affection Cormery feels for his school teacher M. Bernard, who first glimpsed his talents, and then his older mentor, Malan. What makes La Caze’s essay so quietly absorbing, even moving, is the descriptive phenomenological care with which she reconstructs each of these relationships, leaving any larger systematic conclusions at bay.

In: Brill's Companion to Camus
In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies
In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies
In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies
In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies
In: Simone de Beauvoir Studies