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: ENH
Characteristics: 325p. 20cm.
Additional Contributors: Hapgood, David


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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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