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Grenier oversaw Camus's thesis on "Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism," a subject that attracted master and pupil alike for its intrinsic interest--a comparison of two high points of the human spirit, one Christian, one pagan--but also because it was a subject that had engaged a great ancient predecessor in the region, St. Augustine. Both were open to a larger horizon than was typical among contemporary intellectuals. Or as Camus was to formulate it later, Grenier "prevented me from being a humanist in the sense that it is understood today--I mean a man blinded by narrow certainties." Contrary to almost the whole of modern French thought, Camus believed that it was better to be "a good bourgeois than a bad intellectual or a mediocre writer," and he and Grenier strove to avoid the vanity and self-deception endemic to French intellectuals.

Both had intermittent attractions to Christianity, especially Catholicism, because, as Grenier put it, it reflected the principle that there is "no truth for man that is not incarnated." And Grenier could be merciless toward what he believed was a "dilettantism of despair" among many French intellectuals. But they were also put off by the harsh tone of many people in the French Church at the time, which seemed particularly offensive because of the Church's historical failings, as they saw it. Camus confesses at one point: "Catholic thought always seems bittersweet to me. It seduces me then offends me. Undoubtedly, I lack what is essential." That may be true, but it is also a sad commentary on Catholic history in France that these two good men, flawed and perhaps blinded as they may have been by certain modern intellectual currents, felt such ambivalence. The sense of guilt (personal and universal) in the later Camus is so palpable and profound that many people believe that had he not died at age 47, he would have eventually become a Christian. It's a pious wish, but I have always thought it ignored certain invincible circumstances. These letters have not changed my mind.
    -Master and Pupil (Robert Royal, July/August 2003, Crisis)


There is the hint of a possible substitute father in the life of Camus...perhaps this is why Camus was more a reluctant than a militant atheist. In short, the presence of a positive and effective father, or father-figure, seems to be a strong antidote to atheism.
    -Paul Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism




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Albert Camus Links:

    -ESSAY: Camus and the Neo-Cons: More in Common Than They Might Suspect (EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, February 7, 2004, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Albert Camus: Camus has overtaken Sartre to become the popular hero of existentialism. Now even his views on Algeria have outgrown Sartre (Paul Barker, December 2003, The Prospect)
    -ESSAY: Camus as Conservative: A post 9/11 reassessment of the work of Albert Camus (Murray Soupcoffm, Iconoclast)
    -ESSAY: To be a man: Albert Camus' vision in The Plague was bleak, but his study in terrorism is also a fable of redemption (Marina Warner, April 26, 2003, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: 'This one's had a good start born in the middle of a move.': This is how Albert Camus, alias Jacques Cormery in the novel, was born - Camus called it his War and Peace, but after he was killed his friends suppressed the First Man for fear it would undermine his reputation. Antoine De Gaudemar of LibĂ©ration on the novel held back for 34 years (Antoine de Gaudemar, April 16, 1994, The Guardian)

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