Albert Camus is a French novelist, essayist and journalist whose works had great influence in the mid-20th century. He was recognized as a man of great personal integrity as he "sought to define the way of life that would respect in equal measure the logic of the heart, the logic of the mind, and the limitations imposed on the individual by reality". Compared to the other existentialists, Albert Camus is considered to be more optimistic in his views.
Camus was born in Mondovi, Algeria on November 7, 1913. His father who was of Alsatian descent, was a farm labourer while his mother worked as a servant. Despite poor living conditions, Camus' interest in education allowed him to move beyond the limitations of his environment. He attended the University of Algiers where he developed a life-long interest in literature and philosophy through the influence of Jean Grenier, a philosopher. In the 1930's, he became committed to politics, theatre and writing. He was a member of the communist party as a non-doctrinal socialist. He also participated in an amateur theatrical group as an actor and director. He then travelled in Europe for quite a bit and in 1940, he returned to Algeria to teach in a private school.
His writings greatly reflected his views about different things. In 1937, he wrote L'envers et l'endroit and in 1938, Noces, which are two small volume of essays that reflect his lyrical commitment to life, beauty and happiness and at the same time express his revolt against the burden of suffering, death and solitude. L'etranger (1942, English tr. The Stranger, 1946) is narrated by a man named Mersault, a clerk in Algeria who blindly commits murder and then realizes the unique value of life and solidarity of man. Le mythe de Sisyphe (1943 English tr. The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays, 1955) is a greek mythology where Sisyphus is condemned eternally to push a boulder uphill only to have it roll down again as a symbol of man's fate and possibilitites. Caligula (1938 published in 1945, translated 1958) is a story about a Roman emperor so driven by his sense of absurdity of life that he indulges in excessive cruelty that destroys even himself. One of his most important writing is about the bubonic plague in the Algerian town of Oran, La peste (1947, English tr. The Plague 1948). L'homme révolté studies the concepts of personal and historical revolutions in Europe since the 18th century. His other works include Lettres à un ami allemand (1945), the dramas Le Malentendu (1944 English tr. The Misunderstanding, 1958) and Les justes (1949, The Just Assassins, 1958), La chute (1956, The Fall, 1957), L'été (1954), L'exile et le royaume (1957. Exile and the Kingdom, 1958). His influence was ceased when he died from a car accident near Sens, France on January 4, 1960 at age 47.