Camus’ writing took many forms – essays, short stories, novels, journalism, and plays. His novels deal with his quest to find meaning and moral purpose in life. Critics focus on his doctrine of the absurd: that life is made meaningless by death, and his sympathies with nihilism. But he never gave up the search for moral responsibility, and in novels such as “The Plague” (1947) he focuses on human dignity and endurance. His other novels include “The Stranger”(1942) and “The Fall”(1956). He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957. Even though he was influenced by the disillusionment characteristic of contemporary intellectuals, he continued to search for justice and truth. Towards the end of his life he became disenchanted with absolutist doctrines such as Marxism and tended to advocate a moderate liberal humanism.
Camus was born in extreme poverty in Algiers to a French father and Spanish mother. Less than a month after he was born his father was killed in World War I. Camus grew up in a two-bedroom apartment with his mother, brother, grandmother and a paralyzed uncle. As an elementary school student he was helped by a teacher, Louis Germain, to whom he dedicated his Nobel Prize acceptance speech thirty-four years later. He studied philosophy at the University of Algiers, but had to drop out due to tuberculosis. When his health permitted, he greatly enjoyed sports, especially soccer, as well as the theatre. He was active in the French Resistance during World War II, working on the newspaper “Combat”, which he co-edited with fellow French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre. Three years after winning the Nobel Prize Camus was killed in an automobile accident.