Albert Camus's 'The New Mediterranean Culture': A Text and its Contexts (Modern French Identities)

By Neil Foxlee

This booklet was once shortlisted for the R.H. Gapper prize 2011.
On eight February 1937 the 23-year-old Albert Camus gave an inaugural lecture for a brand new Maison de l. a. culture, or group arts centre, in Algiers. Entitled ‘La nouvelle tradition méditerranéenne’ (‘The New Mediterranean Culture’), Camus’s lecture has been interpreted in significantly other ways: whereas a few critics have brushed aside it as an incoherent piece of juvenilia, others see it as key to knowing his destiny improvement as a philosopher, even if because the first expression of his so-called ‘Mediterranean humanism’ or as an early indication of what's visible as his basically colonial mentality.
those quite a few interpretations are in accordance with interpreting the textual content of ‘The New Mediterranean tradition’ in one context, even if that of Camus’s existence and paintings as a complete, of French discourses at the Mediterranean or of colonial Algeria (and French discourses on that country). in contrast, this examine argues that Camus’s lecture - and in precept any ancient textual content - has to be visible in a multiplicity of contexts, discursive and in a different way, if readers are to appreciate effectively what its writer was once doing in writing it. utilizing Camus’s lecture as a case examine, the e-book presents an in depth theoretical and useful justification of this ‘multi-contextualist’ method.

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Even supposing Camus’s lecture at the start seems to be, then, to comply to Ohana’s definition of ‘Mediterranean humanism’ in almost each appreciate, a better exam finds a Mediterranean particularism that's at odds with humanism’s implicit declare to universalism. in a single appreciate, Ohana does recognize Camus’s particularism, albeit no longer in terms of his lecture. touching on Camus’s competition to Algerian independence through the Algerian conflict, Ohana claims that Camus – who favoured a federal technique to the Algerian challenge – ‘did now not achieve releasing himself from nationalism’. 12 What Ohana refers to as ‘nationalism’, despite the fact that, will be defined by means of postcolonial critics as colonialism, and it truly is for this, instead of for its Mediterranean particularism, that they have got criticized Camus’s lecture. eleven 12 In announcing that los angeles Patrie is a flavor for all times in which ‘one’ can suppose in the direction of a Genoese or a Majorcan than a Norman or Alsatian (I, 567), Camus additionally outlined the identification of French Algerians towards the French of northern France. Ohana, ‘Mediterranean Humanism’, sixty one. For Camus’s define of the federal answer proposed through Marc Lauriol, see ‘L’Algérie nouvelle’ (IV, 391–94). Humanist and Postcolonial techniques fifty seven Camus as Well-Meaning Colonizer From the perspective of 1 line of postcolonial interpretation, it isn't the pro-Mediterranean bias of Camus’s lecture that lays it open to feedback, yet its it appears unquestioning popularity of French colonial rule in his local Algeria. In 1957, on the top of the Algerian warfare, Albert Memmi – one other of the writers Ohana identifies as a Mediterranean humanist – released a sympathetic yet provocative article with the identify ‘Camus ou le colonisateur de bonne volonté’ (‘Camus or the Well-Meaning Colonizer’). thirteen previous that yr, Memmi had released his vintage learn Portrait du colonisé, Portrait du colonisateur (Eng. tr. The Colonizer and the Colonized),14 which contained a piece on le colonisateur qui se refuse – ‘the colonizer who refuses to recognize himself as such’ or ‘the colonizer in denial’ – and it was once this idea that supplied the foundation for the 1st prolonged postcolonial learn of Camus and his paintings, through Conor Cruise O’Brien. 15 in keeping with O’Brien, Memmi’s aspect during this part was once that left-wing intellectuals reminiscent of Camus ‘unconsciously shared the assumptions of a colonialism which they consciously rejected’. even supposing Camus was once a communist on the time he gave his lecture, O’Brien argues, ‘he advanced a notion of “Mediterranean tradition” which in reality served to legitimize France’s ownership of Algeria’. sixteen As I shall exhibit, O’Brien’s facts for this statement is basically in keeping with a unmarried component to Camus’s lecture. As David Carroll has mentioned, besides the fact that, touching on Edward Said’s bankruptcy on ‘Camus and the French thirteen 14 15 sixteen Albert Memmi, ‘Camus ou le colonisateur de bonne volonté’, l. a. Nef, 12 December 1957, pp. 95–96. Portrait du colonisé, précédé du Portrait du colonisateur (Paris: Gallimard, 1985 [1957]).

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