"I cannot live without my art. But I have never placed this art above anything else. On the contrary, if it is necessary to me, it is because it does not separate me from anyone and because it allows me to live, as I am, at the level of everyone. In my opinion, art is not a solitary amusement. It is a means of moving the greatest number of men by offering them a privileged image of common pains and joys." Albert Camus.

The emblematic French writer Albert Camus is an obligatory reference to understand the literature and philosophy of the last century. With an intelligent, scrutinizing, and penetrating gaze, accompanied by his characteristic trench coat and his ever-present cigarette, Camus personifies the European man of the mid-20th century: the heir to the devastation of war who questions himself and the world about the reason for his existence.

Camus was born in 1913 in Mondovi, a French colony located in Algeria dedicated mainly to the cultivation of cashew nuts. His father, Lucien Camus, participated in the First World War and died in battle; in this situation, his mother, Catherine Camus, had to move to a working-class neighborhood in Algiers where she worked cleaning houses to support her two young children. These difficult years full of shortages and poverty marked the life of the young Albert Camus, who despite everything will remember those years saying: "poverty never seemed to be a misfortune: the light poured on it its riches, it illuminated even my rebelliousness". In his work The Upside Down and the Right (1937), he gathers the world and the experiences of his childhood and youth through a narration in which many characters appear who embody the close people who accompanied him during those years.

His literary activity, which began at the age of 20, was always guided by the idea of freedom. Albert Camus confronted, with his writings in newspapers, the ideas that seemed to him repressive and inhuman, becoming a prey of the government that cornered him until leaving him without the possibility of finding employment in his hometown, so he was forced to take refuge in Paris in 1940. By this time he had already married Francine Faure, mother of his twins -Catherine and Jean- and official wife who would accompany him until his death, despite the multiple love affairs that the writer had throughout his life.

In Paris, Albert Camus' life intensified, because, in addition to joining the French Resistance against the Germans, he began to work as a reader of texts for the French publishing house Gallimard. Amid the convulsion of the Second World War, Camus began to germinate the ideas that he would later sow in works such as The Foreigner (1942) or The Plague (1947), which are considered his masterpieces because in them he manages to capture with great mastery the abandonment and lack of meaning that covers the life of the man of those years; These characteristics have marked Albert Camus as one of the greatest exponents of existentialism, even though he always refused to follow any doctrine or philosophical current, since he believed that his work -that of a writer- was more committed to defending human freedom through art, and not through the imposition of thought schemes.

In The Stranger, Camus raises strong philosophical problems such as the meaning and validity of social justice in the face of human faults, questions interpersonal relationships, addresses the problem of religion and its relationship with the human being, and in general creates a complex web of questions that revolve around the meaning of life and freedom. These and other ideas raised later in the essay The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) sparked an intense polemic between Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, for while the former maintained that the human being possesses a moral essence whose principles transcend the vicissitudes of history; Sartre denied this essence and affirmed that man was only existence, living in a universe without God. The dispute took place in the pages of Les temps modernes where both writers collaborated as columnists.

By mid-century, the intense literary, philosophical and political activity of Albert Camus had placed him in the spotlight of Europe, and it was not long before he became a candidate for the Nobel Prize, which was awarded to him in 1957. In his acceptance speech, Camus recalled that his main task as a writer was to encourage human beings to fight for their freedom, not to be content with what they have, and, in any case, to resist oppression in any form.

Catherine Camus, daughter of the writer, published in 2012 the book: Albert Camus. Solitaire et Solidaire ("Albert Camus. Loneliness and Solidarity"), an interesting album where unpublished photos and texts by Camus himself reveal the writer's life, essence, and experiences of the writer.

In 1960, at the height of his glory as a writer, Camus was involved in an automobile accident while traveling from Provence, where he had an estate, to Paris to celebrate New Year's. The car in which he was traveling belonged to his friend and publisher Michel Gallimard, owner of the Gallimard publishing house. The car in which he was traveling belonged to his friend and publisher Michel Gallimard -the owner of the Gallimard publishing house-; both were accompanied by his wife and daughter. Gallimard was driving, Camus was in the passenger seat, and the women were installed in the back seats.

It is said that on a straight stretch of the road the car lost control, crashed into a tree, bounced off another, and was wrecked. Camus, who had a fractured skull and broken neck, died instantly in the accident, and his friend Michel died days later in the hospital. The controversial and sudden death of Albert Camus gave rise to countless speculations in which it is argued that the accident was not a coincidence, but rather the product of an assassination planned by his political enemies. However, there is no known evidence to confirm this speculation.

Fortunately, we have the possibility of reliving Camus by reading him and questioning our existence and the conception of the reality we live to see if we can rethink something of what we are and thus thank Camus that, after decades, his literature does not let us live in peace or passive, however, it is...

Author: Ana Gabriela Vázquez, Source: UNAM Radio