After the last steps of Albert Camus

No signal, or a plate, anything to remember the exact location of the accident. The straight line of the old road D606, between the cities of Champigny-sur-Yonn

After the last steps of Albert Camus

No signal, or a plate, anything to remember the exact location of the accident. The straight line of the old road D606, between the cities of Champigny-sur-Yonne and Villeneuve-la-Guyard, is bordered by a row of solid bananas. There are remnants of garbage in the gutter: cans of food, rusted, or a bottle of whiskey empty. Cars passing fast.


Camus-Char), the biography of a friendship Albert Camus, the validity of the no

The January 4, 1960, at 13.55, a car brand Facel-Vega who was travelling in the direction to Paris crashed into a tree. The publisher Michel Gallimard at the wheel, was badly wounded: he died five days later. His wife, Janine, and their daughter, Anne, traveled back: you survived. The writer Albert Camus, sitting in the square of the co-pilot, died on the spot. She was 46 years old.

“it Was an earthquake. I and my twin brother, Jean, we had 14 years ago, we were children, we were alone. It is an open wound,” says Catherine Camus from Lourmarin, the village in Provence where the author of The stranger and The plague had bought a house. “I felt so lost that grabbed me at all that he had learned from dad: the respect of the other, the freedom associated to the responsibility,” he recalls.

expand photo State of the car in which he was travelling Camus on January 4, 1960 after crashing into a tree. GETTY IMAGES

The fatal voyage which had started in Lourmarin, a day before. Camus was a writer consecrated, almost a legend. Two years earlier he had won the Nobel, the award-winning younger from Kipling. Orphan of father and son and a woman who were illiterate, grew up in a poor family in French Algeria, resisted the nazi occupation and in the postwar period, became the ethic reference of a generation.

“His influence is, for me, it was total: in all planes and sometimes in a way that was devastating. For 50 years, I could not think without him,” he says, in his apartment in Paris, Jean Daniel, 99-year-old, a close friend of Camus and his disciple journalistic more noticeable. “Perhaps I exaggerate, but I want to say that all the concepts and the topics in which I thought referred to a book by Camus or a conversation with him,” adds Daniel, who shared the office with Camus in L'express before founding the weekly newspaper Le Nouvel Observateur.

Catherine, Jean and the mother of two, Francine, they began the journey back to Paris by train. Albert, though he had a ticket, he chose to get back in the car, Gallimard, who had spent a few days with Camus in Lourmarin, an idyllic landscape where the writer believed to have found a new, smaller home.

“I said: ‘do you See? Behind the mountain is the sea, behind Algeria,” says Catherine Camus. And remember the gift that your father did those Christmas: a watch, that keeps. “Dad had decided that, after 10 years, only we would receive useful gifts”.

That day, Camus and Gallimard had lunch in the Hôtel de Paris et de la Poste in Sens, about 100 kilometers from Paris. After they took the final straight. Among the remains was found a handful of leaves from his novel unfinished: The first man.

“To his friends, Camus used to say that nothing was more scandalous than the death of a child and nothing more absurd than to die in a car accident,” writes Olivier Todd's biography of Albert Camus. A life. The theories that are most crazy are circulating about the accident; a recent book suggests, without evidence, that he was murdered by the KGB.

we will Never know what would have done if it had survived. To Camus, critic from the left of the totalitarian soviet and therefore excommunicated by Jean-Paul Sartre, the time ran out giving the reason in almost all the discussions that I have encountered.

A statue to remember him in Villeblevin, the town where on the night of 4 to 5 January was veiled the corpse. On a recent day, cold and rainy, it seemed a rather spectral: gray houses, shops closed, the streets empty. Seven hundred kilometers to the south, the writer rests in a tomb in the cemetery of the luminous Lourmarin. “Albert Camus. 1913-1960,” reads the headstone. Visitors leave flowers, messages, stones.

“he Was young, beautiful, seductive and very early”, he describes Jean Daniel. “We miss him, especially at the present time”.

Lessons of journalism camusiano

A little-studied, but critical, to understand the author of The myth of Sisyphus and rebellious man, is the journalism, “one of the most beautiful professions in the world”, as said on some occasion. Maria Santos-Sainz, a professor at the University of Bordeaux, explains Albert Camus, journalist. Reporter in Algiers to an editorialist in Paris, published in 2016 in English and in French in 2019. “Many of the ideas that he later developed in his literary work is found in his journalism,” says Santos-Sainz. "His style of short phrases, clairvoyant, moves to his novels, like The stranger, inspired by his experience as a chronicler of the court".

The journalism of Camus —in their reportage on Alger Républicain, later in his editorials in the newspaper-resistant Combat, and finally in L'express, in the fifties— it is a journalism of “great intentionality”, explains the author, taking sides without ever losing sight of the facts, and that, at the same time reflects on the profession: its independence of the political and economic powers. Their lessons, he argues, are more valid than ever. “He did a journalism rebel against injustice, dogmatism, totalitarianism and in defence of the truth,” he summarizes. “That is why it is exemplary: many of the battles remain the same”.

Updated Date: 05 January 2020, 00:00

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