All over the South of France I’ve been bombarded with information about famous artists (Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso and Van Gogh) and authors (Hugo, Moliere, R L Stevenson and Peter Mayle) but, before I visited the small town of Lourmarin, I had never heard of Albert Camus. He’s hailed as their famous son, though he was actually born in Algeria in 1913.
At university, he studied philosophy and enjoyed playing football until he contracted tuberculosis. During the 1930s he joined the Communist Party and the Algerian People’s Party and during WWII he became editor of ‘Combat’ an underground newspaper for the French Resistance. However, when ‘Combat’ became a commercial paper at the end of the war, he resigned and started to hang out with Jean-Paul Sartre and other writers. While in seclusion following a reoccurrence of his TB, he wrote ‘The Rebel’, about rebellion and revolution.
In the 1950’s he devoted himself to human rights issues around the world and spoke out against capital punishment. It was his essay on this subject, ‘Reflections on the Guillotine’, that led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. Unfortunately, only a few years later, he died in an automobile accident. He was buried in the cemetery of Lourmarin, where he had been living, the spot marked by a simple marble plaque.