Albert Camus: The smiling Sisyphus significant events

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Albert Camus – An Absurd Hero

  • Michel
  • “It's better to bet on this life than on the next.”

Albert Camus: The smiling Sisyphus


  • Born Nov. 7, 1913 in Mondovi, French Algeria
  • Father dies in 1914 during World War I, only story Albert knows is that his father became violently ill at a public execution.
  • Mother was illiterate, partially deaf, and afflicted with a speech disorder – very poor.
  • Attended elementary in a school close to a Moslem community and saw first-hand the idea of the “outsider” he would later develop.

Significant Events

  • High school: developed a lifetime love for literature, theater, and film.
  • Also enjoyed soccer for sport and the life lessons it taught him
  • “I learned . . . that a ball never arrives from a direction you expected it. That helped me later in life, especially in mainland France, where nobody plays straight.”

Significant Events

  • Briefly joined the Communist Party but was disillusioned by the mindless, even absurd, work he was assigned to do.
  • In the 1940’s his writing began to attract international attention.
  • In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He was grateful, but he felt he had not yet achieved the fame such an award indicated.

Significant Events

  • On January 4, 1960, Camus died tragically in a car accident.

The Tenets of Absurdism

  • There is such a thing as meaning or value.
  • If there is inherent meaning in the universe, humans cannot understand it.
  • Individuals can create meaning in life themselves, but it is not essential.

The Tenets of Absurdism

  • The pursuit of intrinsic or extrinsic meaning in the universe is not possible, but it may add meaning to the personal life
  • There is a solution to the individual's desire to seek meaning, and it is the acknowledgement and embracing of absurdity.

Camus’ View of Absurdism

  • Life is not useless or without purpose.
  • The universe lacks logic.
  • Meaning in life comes from a person’s ability to affect his/her own destiny.
  • Human existence is defined by our relationships with each other, not an absurd and illogical universe.

Absurdism and Religion

  • Religion and absurdism is a paradox. The absence of God in a person’s life can simultaneously be accompanied by a longing for “salvation and meaning that only God can provide”.

An Important Decision

  • The Absurd arises out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual’s search for meaning and the apparent meaninglessness of the universe.

An Important Decision


  • (Escaping existence) Camus dismissed the viability of this option because death only adds to the absurdity of the Universe; it does not solve the riddle.

Religious belief

  • Camus called this option “Philosophical Suicide” because it requires the individual to reject their personal ability to seek out meaning rationally.

Acceptance of the Absurd

    • One must accept and even embrace the Absurd and continue to live in spite of it, Camus endorsed this option deciding that life can be given meaning through its struggle against the Absurd and meaninglessness.

The Mount Everest Allegory

Work Cited

  • Camus, Albert. "Niether Victims nor Executioners." November 1946. Online Texts. 10 April 2010 .
  • —. "The Blood of Freedom." 24 August 1944. Online Texts. 10 April 2010 .
  • —. "The Myth of Sysiphus." 1942. Online Texts. 10 April 2010 .
  • —. "The Night of Truth." 24 August 1944. Online Texts. 10 April 2010 .
  • Camus, Catherine. SPIKE interviews Catherine Camus, daughter of Albert Camus Russell Wilkinson. October 1995.
  • Crystal, Garry. Who is Albert Camus? - WiseGEEK. 24 April 2010 .
  • May, William F. "Albert Camus: Politcal Moralist." 24 November 1958. Religion Online Website. 24 April 2010 .
  • The European Graduate School. Albert Camus - Biography. 10 April 2010 .

Further Readings

  • Camus, Albert. The Plague. The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays. New York: Everyman's Library, 2004.
  • Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus. The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays. New York: Everyman's Library, 2004.

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