NEW ORLEANS — A century ago today, Albert Camus was born into a poor, overcrowded home in Algiers, Algeria, the capital of France’s colonial department. He would become one of the youngest writers to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1957, at 44.
Camus’s centenary has unleashed a tide of books, conferences and critical assessments that affirm his stature as one of the great writers of the twentieth century, and a figure of continuing controversy whose work now resonates with the yearnings of the Arab Spring and the challenges of combatting 21st century extremism.
Camus’ mother, illiterate and partially deaf, became nearly mute in reaction to her husband’s death in World War I. The boy was not yet two. With scholarships and good mentors, Camus received a classical education; he moved to France at the outbreak of World War II and published a celebrated novel, The Stranger, at 29. In Paris, he wrote for a clandestine newspaper during the Nazi Resistance. He was prolific after the war, but three years after winning the Nobel Prize, he died in a car accident in France.