Friday, December 18, 2009


The original title of the work in French is "L'Homme révolté." While English translations typically use the title The Rebel, it is possible that the title, once translated, forms an elaborate pun. Quite simply, the title can also be translated as "The Revolted Man." In this sense, the title is itself a means of justifying the rebellion against the Absurd which forms the essay's central theme.

The Rebel is a 1951 book-length essay by Albert Camus, which treats both the metaphysical and the historical development of rebellion and revolution in societies, especially Western Europe. Camus relates writers and artists as diverse as Epicurus and Lucretius, the Marquis de Sade, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche, and André Breton in an integrated, historical portrait of man in revolt. Examining both rebellion and revolt, which may be seen as the same phenomenon in personal and social frames, Camus examines several 'countercultural' figures and movements from the history of western thought and art, noting the importance of each in the overall development of revolutionary thought and philosophy.

Albert Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) was a French author, philosopher, and journalist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He is often cited as a proponent of existentialism (the philosophy that he was associated with during his own lifetime), but Camus himself refused this particular label. Specifically, his views contributed to the rise of the more current philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay The Rebel that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom.

In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which (according to the book Albert Camus, une vie by Olivier Todd) was a group opposed to some tendencies of the surrealistic movement of André Breton. Camus was the second-youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature (after Rudyard Kipling) when he became the first Africa-born writer to receive the award, in 1957. He is also the shortest-lived of any literature laureate to date, having died in an automobile accident just over two years after receiving the award.

In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: "No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked..."