The First Man

The First Man

Book - 1995
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Camus tells the story of Jacques Cormery, a boy who lived a life much like his own. Camus summons up the sights, sounds and textures of a childhood circumscribed by poverty and a father's death yet redeemed by the austere beauty of Algeria and the boy's attachment to his nearly deaf-mute mother. Published thirty-five years after its discovery amid the wreckage of the car accident that killed Camus, The First Man is the brilliant consummation of the life and work of one of the 20th century's greatest novelists. Translated from the French by David Hapgood.
The First Man is perhaps the most honest book Camus ever wrote, and the most sensual...Camus is...writing at the depth of his powers...It is a work of genius.--The New Yorker
Fascinating...The First Man helps put all of Camus's work into a clearer perspective and brings into relief what separates him from the more militant literary personalities of his day...Camus's voice has never been more personal.--New York Times Book Review
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1995.
ISBN: 9780679439370
Branch Call Number: CAMU
Characteristics: 325p. 20cm.
Additional Contributors: Hapgood, David


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Jul 29, 2018

Famous French author Albert Camus died unexpectedly at age 46 in a tragic car accident. Found lying in the mud near his outstretched hand was the unfinished hand-written manuscript of a book intended to be his greatest work. After being held back for political reasons, this manuscript was finally published, in its unfinished state, during 1994. Unlike Camus' more famous philosophic books (The Stranger), this book is full of complex feelings and memories. It's almost impossible to believe that this brilliant masterpiece is essentially a dead writer's first rough draft! The book is an unfinished autobiography of Camus early life where he was raised by his impoverished mother in French Algiers. The most disappointing thing about this book, of course, is that it doesn't have much of an ending.

RogerDeBlanck Jun 30, 2018

Over thirty-five years after his untimely death at the age of forty-six, Camus’s final breathtaking novel was published in 1995. In the wreckage of the car accident that ended his life, Camus carried the manuscript of The First Man. He envisioned this autobiographical novel as an epic that would chronicle a life similar to his own, from childhood to manhood. Camus had completed approximately a third of the story at the time of his death. What he captured in that stretch of narrative constitutes perhaps his most personal and revealing as an artist in pursuit of his own understanding and meaning of life. The language and emotion of the text illuminates the innocence of youth. Through the character of Jacques Cormery, Camus wonderfully examines events in the life of the young man up to the point where Jacques confronts the absence of his father, who was killed in the First World War. A stunning achievement, The First Man is the final work from one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers and writers.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

A passionate and radiant account of Camus' boyhood in Algeria. The protagonist, Jacques, searches for information about his father who dies in the first World War. He lives an intensely inquiring life with his beloved deaf-mute mother and an authoritarian grandmother. Rescued by a prescient school teacher, from a working class life of great poverty, he is educated and set on his way to becoming the powerful and humane writer that we know. At last, this unedited manuscript found in the car with him when he died in 1960 has been published by his daughter.

Jun 06, 2014

Terrific writing, the unfinished nature doesn't spoil the enjoyment of reading.

The edition is 19 years old, and still in very good condition; makes me wonder why electronic books wear out after less than one year!

Mar 17, 2012

Extraordinary capturing of the formation of an artist. Not unlikely Proust or Woolf, Camus clearly greatly valued his memories. His writing’s clarity and emotional thrust is so satisfying. He gives you his romance with those childhood sensory experiences that live with him. And at the same time, he reflects on heavyweight moral concerns surrounding colonialism, nationalism, capital punishment, child labor, and the weight of poverty and illiteracy. While Camus certainly never intended to have these notes to be read as a book, the unfinished state doesn’t take away from the thrill of connecting so intimately with this life that bridged such divergent cultures.


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